Taylor pays dues to lift flagging spirits

Sunderland 0 Newcastle United 1

Ryan Taylor once dampened the festive celebrations on Tyneside with a free-kick winner against Newcastle United for Wigan Athletic in a Boxing Day match in 2007. It was one of four goals the defender scored against Newcastle for Wigan but the makeshift left-back, who has been filling in there after Jose Enrique's sale to Liverpool, more than made amends with his second-half set-piece winner at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

"I have scored many goals against Newcastle in the past, one very similar on Boxing Day, but hopefully that will cancel one of them off," he said. "I work on the free-kicks and to have it pay off in a big game is fantastic. They don't always come off but when they do they are special moments and I don't think you can score a better one away to your biggest rivals in front of the away fans."

If that was a belated birthday present for Taylor, 27 on Friday, it was also a lift for Newcastle's supporters after a gloomy summer. The way Alan Pardew's men followed up their goalless draw with Arsenal by weathering Sunderland's first-half storm before extending a remarkable record on Wearside – one defeat in 15 – backed up centre-back Steven Taylor's assertion that the loss of captain Kevin Nolan and Enrique has not diluted the dressing-room spirit.

"We have a small squad, but we stick together. We're very closely knit and we'll enjoy this result as a team. In the past, that hasn't always been the case, but we're very close." REUTERS

Scorer: Newcastle R Taylor 62.

Subs:

Sunderland Gardner 5 (Elmohamady, 71), Ji 5 (Richardson, 71), Wickham (Larsson, 81).

Newcastle Williamson (Cabaye, 85), Gosling (Obertan, 85). Booked: Sunderland Bardsley, Brown, Cattermole. Newcastle R Taylor, Cabaye, Barton.

Sent off: Sunderland Bardsley (89).

Man of the match Coloccini.

Referee H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Att 47,751.

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