Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has praised his side’s goalkeeper Jak Alnwick for his performance in the Magpies’ 1-0 loss with Sunderland in Matchday 17 of the English Premier League, in where he made only his third start for the club in Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby.
The result meant that Newcastle had lost to the Black Cats four times in a row.
Alnwick, who had picked the ball out of his net eight times in his previous two appearances, couldn’t stop Adam Johnson 90th-minute winner at St James’ Park.
And Toon manager Pardew, without injured goalkeeper Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, felt Alnwick acquitted himself well on a trying afternoon against their Northeast rivals, in where the player successfully came for a series of free-kicks and balls into the box from Gus Poyet’s side.
“We were disappointed with how many free-kicks we gave away, because we knew they were going to put it on Jak,” he said.
“If there’s one player comes out of this with a huge amount of credit, it’s our goalie. He had to deal with a lot of high balls into him, and he was excellent.”
Pardew also felt the referee, Manchester-based official Anthony Taylor, kept control of the game, which saw four players from each side booked.
“The referee, I thought, did really well,” said Pardew.
“There were some situations where, typical of a derby, you can over-react, or whatever. He handled himself well.”
Pardew’s side – who were knocked out of the English Capital One Cup by Tottenham Hotspur last week and beaten 4-1 by Arsenal – must now pick themselves up for the league visit to Manchester United on Boxing Day, with the club currently ninth in the league table.
“It’s tough for us, a tough run of games, and we knew that,” said Pardew.
“This was a critical fixture and a critical result, really. We needed to win this to stay at the top (end) of the league, and that has been taken away from us.”
“Now we have got some really hard work to do.”
“We’re going to have to get a win against Man United, or a result of some description, to keep us in and around that area, and that’s now the agenda.”
“We’ve had a tough week. It was difficult at Spurs, and (on Sunday) we had a result that perhaps we didn’t deserve.”
“But we’ve got two defeats to our name, and we’ve got to turn that round.”