Fletcher: Win was only option
Steven Fletcher has admitted Sunderland had no choice but to beat Newcastle for more than one reason.
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Sunday's 2-1 win over the Magpies at the Stadium of Light ended the club's wait for a Barclays Premier League success after six successive defeats and lifted the Black Cats from the foot of the table.
But just as important was local pride and the psychological boost that victory can give to players and fans alike going forward.
Fletcher said: "We're not daft, we know what this game means to the fans and everyone around the place. We knew we needed to win this one.
"We are told every day - some fans tell us that we just need to win this one and that's it.
"The fans have not had a lot to cheer about, but I think it showed from our celebrations in the first five minutes how much we wanted to win the game.
"We managed to go on and do that. They have stuck by us and hopefully we have repaid them."
New manager Gus Poyet, taking charge of his first home game, was thrilled with the way his players tackled their derby mission on an afternoon when defeat was simply unthinkable.
They started the game strongly and needed just five minutes to force their way ahead when Adam Johnson, who turned in one of his more effective displays for the club, worked a short corner with Sebastian Larsson and floated a cross to the far post for Fletcher to climb above makeshift central defender Paul Dummett and head home.
In an instant, confidence began to coarse through red and white veins and for 20 minutes or so, there was only one team in it with the combative Lee Cattermole setting the tone in the middle of the field.
But as the early storm abated, Newcastle worked their way into the contest and it was no surprise when full-back Mathieu Debuchy turned up on the end of Hatem Ben Arfa's driven 57th-minute cross to equalise.
The writing appeared to be on the wall for Sunderland as they retreated under a growing bombardment with Yohan Cabaye and substitute Shola Ameobi both going close.
However, it was then that Poyet made his move, removing Cattermole and Johnson and replacing them with Ki Sung-yueng and Fabio Borini, and it was the Italian who proved to be the match-winner with just five minutes remaining.
Ki fed Jack Colback to play the ball into Jozy Altidore's feet, and when he laid it off, Borini smashed with high to Tim Krul's left and into the top corner.
The home fans among a crowd of 46,313 erupted as the dream of a second successive derby victory became a reality with Poyet launching his reign in earnest in some style.
It proved a big day for Fletcher, whose impressive start to his career on Wearside has been interrupted by ankle and shoulder injuries.
He said: "That was the best feeling I've had here personally. I missed the 3-0 game last year, so that was the highlight of my Sunderland career so far.
"I got back early from my ankle and got back early from my shoulder, so it's been a good recovery.
"The dressing room was bouncing afterwards. The music was on and it's been a while since that was the case."
The Black Cats will now prepare for Saturday's trip to Hull hoping a corner has been turned, but with keeper Keiren Westwood knowing there is still much work to be done.
He said: "It's a good start, we are off the bottom and (it is) onwards and upwards now.
"Our situation's still dire, we are not getting carried away. But we worked our socks off and we got our just rewards.
"This wasn't about being bottom of the league or conceding however many or having one point. This was about Newcastle versus Sunderland.
"It was massive, it was a cup final. We had to go out and enjoy it and have no regrets because there's been a few from the team this season."