SHOLA Ameobi paid tribute to fellow substitute Hatem Ben Arfa after the pair’s second-half cameos helped earn Newcastle United a point against Sunderland yesterday.
The striker grabbed an injury-time equaliser at St James’s Park to grab the headlines, but it was Ben Arfa’s introduction at half-time that helped swing momentum the Magpies’ way.
With United trailing 1-0 at the break to Nicklas Bendtner’s penalty, Alan Pardew brought on the Frenchman for defender Davide Santon, and Ben Arfa tormented Sunderland left-back Kieran Richardson on the wing as the home side pressed for an equaliser.
Ameobi said: “They were holding on, even at 1-0 up. They were down a man, but you could see they were tiring.
“We had to just keep the momentum going.
“Hatem (Ben Arfa) came on at half-time and changed the game. He kept running at them, and you could see they were scared of that.
“It got the crowd going, and at home to Sunderland you need that to be that extra man for us.
“It certainly told for us in the end.
“We got the goal, and were unfortunate not to get the winner.”
The home-grown forward knows better than most what the derby means to the Toon Army.
And he was delighted to reward their support with the late leveller.
“This game was all about the fans – all about keeping them happy,” he added.
“We have got four points out of Sunderland this season, and we are still top dogs in the North East.
“That’s what they want, and we’re glad we could give them it.
“I know more than most the effects of it. You see how much it means to the fans.
“We had to get a result by any means necessary. That’s the attitude we needed – we had to keep on fighting.”