By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Despite the hurt of seeing Sunderland snatch a late equaliser to deny Newcastle a second successive derby victory at the Stadium of Light, returning goalkeeper Tim Krul felt the Magpies still had more reasons to be cheerful than their rivals after Sunday's 1-1 draw.
An 85th minute Demba Ba own goal spared the Black Cats' blushes and cancelled out Yohan Cabaye's early opener against a United side who had been down to ten men for an hour following Cheick Tiote's first-half red card, but it's now almost five years since the Wearsiders last won this fixture.
Alan Pardew's side had been in control before the Ivorian's dismissal for a foul on Steven Fletcher after referee Martin Atkinson had already awarded Newcastle a free-kick due to Jack Colback tugging at the midfielder.
Eventually, Sunderland's numerical advantage told as they levelled from a set-piece having struggled to find a way past the visitors in open play, but Krul was in no doubt when asked whether it was a point gained or two dropped.
"Easy question," he smiled. "I'm really proud of us, of the whole team. I think we see this as a win to be honest.
"I know it's hard to take when you have a deflected goal so late into the game, especially after how hard we worked, but the spirit is the most important thing we took out of this game.
"Of course we're disappointed because listen, if you're 1-0 up and you've played so well for 60 minutes with ten men it's hard to take.
"But at the end of the day when everything's settled down we see this as a good result, especially with the lads working their socks off for each other again. I think that's what put us through last year, the spirit, and I've seen today that we've got the spirit back."
It was Krul's first appearance since sustaining an elbow injury on international duty with Holland last month and it was a game he was determined to be part of.
And he enjoyed a relatively comfortable afternoon as Martin O'Neill's men struggled to fashion genuine opportunities against a well-organised and determined Magpies team.
"Of course I was desperate to be back," he told nufc.co.uk. "I'd hoped to make Man United a couple of weeks ago but that was too early for me so the next target was Sunderland and I was not going to miss this game.
"To be honest, even with ten men - of course their delivery's great from free-kicks and corners - but I didn't feel threatened today by them at all so I'm really pleased with the lads in front of me."
Within three minutes Newcastle were ahead when Ba's shot was parried out to Cabaye, who tucked away the loose ball.
And Krul admitted: "It was great to quieten the crowd down and it was a great start.
"We said we had to start better than we have done over the weeks and that's what we did."
But then, with time running out, John O'Shea's header deflected off Ba to leave Krul helpless and give Sunderland a share of the Tyne-Wear spoils.
"The initial header was going to go wide and it hit Demba and just went the other way so you can't react to that," the keeper explained.
"The first header was going wide, everything was alright, but things like that happen."