ALAN Pardew has challenged his Newcastle United side to make up for the bitter disappointment of Sunderland’s late derby leveller by finishing above the Black Cats and re-establishing themselves as the North East’s top dogs.
The United boss admitted that despite a decent performance the draw, achieved with top scorer Andy Carroll sitting in the stands at the Stadium of Light and midfield general Cheik Tiote suspended, felt more like a defeat because of the timing of Asamoah Gyan’s goal.
And to add to his feelings of injustice he was unsure where Howard Webb found five minutes of injury time from a game that fizzed along for 90 minutes at a furious pace.
But there was consolation to be salvaged in a battling display that did much to draw a line under their disastrous FA Cup effort at Stevenage last weekend.
“I am disappointed. We were in the dressing room feeling like it was a defeat even though we got a valuable point,” Pardew said.
“The players had a good mentality about them – we started with two up front to try and hurt them and we were fast and I thought we started on the front foot.
“The first half felt like a derby, both teams were huffing and puffing, but in the second half we were excellent.
“We controlled the game, got the goal and from that period our fans were making lots of noise and I thought on the sideline we were see it out.
“What cost us was a lot of injury time which I thought was a bit harsh. You don’t see many games with five minutes injury time – I thought it was three or four at most.
“It brought the stadium alive and I thought the referee almost went ‘Here you are, there’s a little bit at the end for you.’ And that is what it proved to be.”
Kevin Nolan’s 58th-minute goal – which was also being claimed by Shola Ameobi – seemed to have put Newcastle on course for a win that would have made them the undisputed regional ‘top dogs’.
That it didn’t happen just makes Pardew even more determined to finish above Sunderland in the league.
“For us, four points from our local rivals – we’ll carry the banner through the summer and look forward to the next one,” he said.
“It is a winning season for us against Sunderland, but I’m sure that Steve will say that his team are above us in the league.
“So that is something us for us to address before the end of the season. Sunderland are having an excellent season, but we want to aspire as high as we can.
“There’s a long way to go but I thought we were excellent at Sunderland apart from the break at the end. That was a disappointment but we have to use it to fuel us for the game against Spurs.”
Meanwhile, Pardew once again dismissed transfer talk surrounding star striker Andy Carroll – who was forced to miss the Wear-Tyne derby with a thigh muscle tear. The Newcastle boss remains “hopeful” that Carroll will play against Spurs with his recovery progressing well, and absolutely resolute that the forward will not be sold to either Harry Redknapp’s side or Chelsea, both linked with £30m bids.
“It is has been going on and on and on – it’s ridiculous,” Pardew said. “How many times do I need to say he’s not for sale? Well here it is one more time, he’s not for sale.
“Will he be fit for next week? I hope so, he was smarting in the dressing room before the game. I wasn’t tempted to play him with one leg though!”