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U21s Tyne-Wear Derby: Last-gasp ‘Hand of Cod’ reels Sunderland from defeat on Halloween

Sunderland players celebrate their last-minute goal from Alex Bass, Newcastle crowd the referee. Credit – SAFC

Goalkeeper Alex Bass scored a 95th-minute equaliser for Sunderland U21s against Newcastle United U21s, the stopper later admitted the crucial touch came from his hand.

Joe White gave Newcastle the lead in the 34th minute.

A 79th-minute red card to Jay Turner-Cooke saw the Magpies reduced to ten men.

Sunderland goalkeeper Alex Bass scored in the 95th minute to make it level, with claims of handball by the opposition.

The Black Cats travelled to St James’ Park sitting in 9th place in the Premier League 2, with a handful of first-team players making the short trip to Tyneside including second-choice goalkeeper Alex Bass, Costa Rican youngster Jewison Bennette and Jay Matete, who was named captain for the game.

Newcastle knew a win would take them as high as 3rd in the table, but defeat would see the gap between the two sides reduced to just three points. Magpies boss Elliot Dickman took charge for his second derby since making the switch from Sunderland last October, his ninth overall.

20-year-old Joe White broke the deadlock in the first half for the Geordies, receiving the ball from a Dylan Stephenson backheel and drilling the ball under Alex Bass and into the net. White celebrated in front of the travelling Sunderland supporters situated in the west corner of the Leazes stand.

Sunderland’s Nathan Newell came close to equalising before halftime, but Jude Smith pushed away the powerful volley.

The Wearsiders started off the second half stronger, with Harry Gardner denied by Smith before Ellis Taylor put the rebound wide.

Newcastle were struck a heavy blow deep into the half, as Jay Turner-Cooke collided with Bass and sparked ill-tempered scenes, resulting in the Magpies number eight receiving his second yellow card of the game and being sent off.

Sunderland took advantage of the extra man and in the penultimate minute of extra time, goalkeeper Bass came up for a corner and scrambled the ball home. His initial header came off the post and ricocheted back off Bass’ hands and into the net. Newcastle players and supporters alike were shocked that the goal stood.

Bass came out after the game and admitted that the ball did indeed come off his hand:

“I have to admit that I handballed it, I didn’t think it was going to be given.” The shot-stopper revealed.

The goal dubbed ‘The Hand of Cod’ meant that the spoils were shared at the death and the Magpies move above North-East compatriots Middlesbrough up to 5th place with a game in hand.