Sunderland fans might be tempted to rename themselves Wearysiders after this latest derby disappointment. On a sunny lunchtime at the Stadium of Light, this seemed the perfect opportunity for their team to achieve a rare victory over their fiercest rivals, yet instead an all-too-familiar story unfolded for Steve Bruce's side, who succumbed to Ryan Taylor's 62nd-minute free-kickand finished with 10 men after Phil Bardsley's late dismissal.
While Sunderland entered the campaign on a wave of optimism generated by nine new faces, there has been little cheer on Tyneside this summer, with the departures of the captain, Kevin Nolan – scorer of four derby goals last season – and the full-back Jose Enrique, doubts over Joey Barton's future and discontent over owner Mike Ashley's budget approach to team-building.
Yet it was Ryan Taylor, replacing the departed Enrique, who scored the only goal, with a right-foot free-kick from the right corner of the Sunderland penalty box that floated over Simon Mignolet and into the far corner, earning Newcastle a first away win since February.
Alan Pardew, the visitors' man-ager, who still wants to recruit a new left-back and striker, praised his goalscorer, saying: "All the talk this week was about a new left-back coming in, but not only did he play very well he scored the winning goal."
Bruce blamed his goalkeeper's positioning, though it was his team's failure to translate their first-half superiority into goals that cost them dear. Sunderland had prevailed only once in the previous 15 Tyne-Wear derbies yet dominated the opening exchanges. They even had the benefit of escaping a clear Newcastle penalty after Sebastian Larsson used his arm to clear a Barton header off the line.
That came after 15 minutes as Mignolet, not for the only time in the match, missed the flight of Yohan Cabaye's deep corner and Shola Ameobi nodded on to Barton. Amid heated Newcastle protests, the referee, Howard Webb, consulted his assistant, Scott Ledger, but awardedanother corner. Pardew said: "By the players' reaction you could tell it was a penalty."
After that reprieve, Sunderland continued to control the match. Lee Cattermole drove them forward from midfield, although it was Stéphane Sessègnon, operating as a second striker behind Asamoah Gyan, who gave Newcastle most problems. After dragging an early effort wide, by the interval he had drawn two full-stretch saves from Tim Krul.
It was not all one-way traffic. Cabaye sent in a swerving 30-yard shot that Mignolet tipped over. By that stage, the Frenchman, a summerrecruit from Lille, had got caught up in the frenetic mood by leaving in a high foot on Bardsley to earn the first of the game's six yellow cards.
Ameobi's blushes at missing a free header were spared by an offside call, but minutes before half-time Sunderland went close again as Gyan turned Fabio Coloccini and curled in a shot that skimmed the crossbar.
That was as good as it got for the hosts, as Bruce admitted. "The first half in particular we moved the ball particularly well and created numerous opportunities. But in the second half they dropped a midfielder in there to try to stop us."
The only goal had come after Cattermole tripped Jonas Gutierrez on the corner of the penalty box, and soon afterwards Sunderland's captain left his frustrations get the betterof him as he clattered the Argentinian to earn a yellow card, and spark an outbreak of handbags.
Bruce responded by sending on the midfielder Craig Gardner and forwards Ji Dong-Won and Connor Wickham but it was Newcastle who could have got another goal, the substitute Dan Gosling breaking through but failing to beat Mignolet. By then Bardsley had seen red after flying into a challenge on Coloccini that earned him a second yellow card.
A delighted Pardew said afterwards: "[Ryan] Taylor and Colo were brilliant today and in front of them you had Cheik [Tioté] marshalling them; that little combination is a strength of ours." Winning Northeast derbies is evidently another one.
Sunderland (4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Bardsley, Ferdinand, Brown, Richardson (Ji, 71); Elmohamady (Gardner, 71), Cattermole, Colback, Larsson (Wickham, 81); Sessègnon; Gyan.
Newcastle United (4-5-1): Krul; Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, R Taylor; Obertan (Gosling, 85), Barton, Cabaye (Williamson, 85), Tioté, Gutierrez; Ameobi.
Referee Howard Webb.
Man of the match Coloccini (Newcastle).
Match rating 7/10.