What’s the secret behind Sunderland’s hoodoo over Newcastle?

Over the last few years, I think it’s safe to say that Sunderland have had the better of their Tyne-Wear clashes. Former Magpies ball-boy Adam Johnson struck a 90th minute winner on Sunday, as the Black Cats beat Newcastle United 1-0 at St James’ Park.

The Sunderland fans must be getting used to winning at Newcastle in recent times. After two consecutive 3-0 scorelines, Gus Poyet’s side travelled the short distance to St James’ Park looking for a hat-trick of back-to-back wins. They were made to wait an awful long time – the whole game in fact – as their side broke forward quickly, and a smart move was emphatically finished off by local lad Adam Johnson.

The ex-Middlesbrough and Manchester City winger, scored his third goal in three successive Sunderland wins at St James’ Park. The 27-year-old scored the second in the Black Cats’ 3-0 win in April 2013, and the second goal yet again in the repeated scoreline earlier this year.

Speaking to Sky Sports after Sunderland’s win, Johnson said: “Three years in a row – they must hate me here, but I’m delighted. Three wins here and three clean sheets, we can’t ask for much more. I was a bit disappointed as I should have scored earlier on so if I had missed that one I would have been gutted tonight. I took my time and set myself and thankfully it went in.”

Gus Poyet has instigated the last two Sunderland victories at St James’ Park , but it was Paolo Di Canio who set the trend – with the Black Cats’ 3-0 win in 2013. You have to go all the way back to October 2010 for the last time Newcastle got the better of Sunderland at home. It was a resounding scoreline too, as a Kevin Nolan hat-trick inspired Chris Hughton’s Magpies to a 5-1 win. Since then, Newcastle have only beaten their rivals once – a 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light in August 2011 – courtesy of a Ryan Taylor goal.

So what’s the secret behind Sunderland’s recent superiority in the Tyne-Wear derby? It’s hard to put your finger on it, but in the last two seasons, it could be argued that the Black Cats have wanted it more. Both 3-0 wins came at desperate times in the season for Sunderland, and they were both well earned. But as for Sunday, the commitment was there from a Newcastle perspective, they had chances of their own to win it, and on another day Alan Pardew’s side could have won 1-0, as opposed to losing 1-0.

As for Poyet’s Sunderland – who are the Premier League’s draw specialists with an unrivalled 10 draws – the last-minute winner was just what the doctor ordered. The three points lifts them up to 14th in the Premier League table, and it was their first top flight victory since a 3-1 win at Crystal Palace in early-November.

The Sunderland fans have the bragging rights yet again over their North East neighbours – and they can bask in that glory – at least until April when the two sides next meet at the Stadium of Light. As for Pardew and the Magpies, they have to put a stop to this horrible run against their bitter rivals, if only for their fans.