Newcastle's team spirit key to derby win - Taylor
Published 13:56 21/08/11 By MirrorFootball
Ryan Taylor saluted the spirit in the Newcastle dressing room after firing his way into the derby history books with a precious winner at Sunderland.
The Magpies utility man, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, only started at the Stadium of Light because of the club's failure to sign a specialist left-back in the wake of Jose Enrique's departure for Liverpool.
However, it was his 62nd-minute free-kick which clinched a narrow victory on Wearside to cement a solid start to the new campaign despite an ill-fated pre-season trip to the United States, the loss of Enrique and inspirational skipper Kevin Nolan and the furore which has surrounded the club's approach to recruitment this summer.
Taylor said: "We have had a few problems off the pitch, but when we are on the pitch, we are a unit, we are a team and everyone looks after everyone.
"We are all good friends in the dressing room and it just showed today what spirit we have in the team."
Newcastle needed every ounce of that spirit to emerge victorious on Wearside as they were forced to contend with an early onslaught from their hosts and a poor afternoon for referee Howard Webb.
Sunderland, who went into the game in confident mood with manager Steve Bruce having invested heavily once again this summer, made much of the early running with Benin international Stephane Sessegnon twice testing goalkeeper Tim Krul from range as he repeatedly caused problems for Alan Pardew's men.
However, they enjoyed a major escape when Sebastian Larsson clearly handled Joey Barton's goal-bound 14th-minute header on the line, an offence which should have resulted in a penalty and a red card.
Neither Mr Webb nor his assistant had spotted the offence and the Black Cats enjoyed a major slice of good fortune, but they failed to make the most of it as chances came and went with Krul's clean sheet remaining intact.
But as Sunderland ran out of steam and ideas after the break, the visitors began to force their way into the game, and they took the lead when, after Jonas Gutierrez had been felled by Lee Cattermole, Taylor stepped up.
His perfectly-struck free-kick curled high over the poorly-positioned Simon Mignolet and into the back of the net with central defender Steven Taylor attempting to make sure, and the 3,000 travelling supporters behind the goal exploded into wild celebrations.
Ryan Taylor said: "There have been some great goals in this game in the past and to go down as a goalscorer in it, it's a great moment for me.
"But there's going to be a better moment in a couple of weeks with the birth of my baby, so that one will be for my baby."
It was not lose on Bruce that it was he who sold Ryan Taylor to Newcastle during his time as Wigan boss, although Steven Taylor was simply relieved to see his team-mate scoring for the club rather than against him after suffering on more than one occasion in the past.
He said: "It was a fantastic free-kick. The keeper wasn't getting anywhere near it.
"Now the Newcastle fans will definitely forgive him. The four goals he has scored against us in the past have been cancelled out.
"If you score past Sunderland, you go down in history."
Sunderland huffed and puffed in the search for a face-saving equaliser, but rarely threatened to get it as the two Taylors, Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Simpson held firm at the back.
Their woes increased at the death when Phil Bardsley, who had earlier been booked for a spat with Barton, was cautioned for a second time for a wild challenge on Coloccini and was dismissed by a referee who should have earlier red-carded Larsson and could also have sent off Yohan Cabaye and Cattermole.
For an hour or so, the win over their arch-rivals took Newcastle to the top of the Barclays Premier League table, although feet were being kept firmly on the Tyneside turf.
Steven Taylor said: "Game by game, that's all we are doing. We are not getting ahead of ourselves.
"The next game is Scunthorpe in the cup and we are looking forward to that one."