BY THEIR brave, untiring effort, Sunderland took another important stride towards the big-time at Maine Road on Saturday in defying the fierce and frantic efforts of Manchester City to avoid having to fight their F.A. Cup (Fifth Round) tie all over again at Roker Park tomorrow night. Sunderland supporters– and there must have been nearly 15,000 of them–could be intensely proud of their team for holding the joint Cup favourites to a 2–2 draw and often looking good enough to force a win at first attempt.
It was high drama all the way with the tension reaching its climax after the scoring had been completed in the 72nd minute. Desperate City threw extra men forward to bring seemingly unbearable pressure in the Sunderland goal . . . and Sunderland, thrusting forward skilfully into the gaps which City left behind them, were often as near to snatching a match-winning goal. The intense physical and mental application on the pitch had everyone in the ground trembling with excitement as the game roared towards its finale.
Sunderland finished with the greater sense of achievement and, having absorbed all the punishment thrown at them and kept on fighting with high hopes of success, are entitled to feel that they have an even better chance of winning through tomorrow night.
City know and use every trick in the book and, to go with that, they have a tremendous array of talent. This adds up to an intimidating combination which was good enough to overpower championship favourites Liverpool in the previous round, but came unstuck because courageous Sunderland believed in themselves and refused to accept the possibility of defeat.
Their heroic effort made Bob Stokoe the proudest manager in football. Before the game he had said he was pleased about the excitement which the Cup run had brought for supporters and, prophetically, “We’ll be prepared to die to keep it going for them on Saturday.” That promise was often on trial and he praised them all warmly for the manner in which they had conducted themselves in forcing this result against odds.
“I was delighted for the lads. They gave everything they had and showed a lot of character. I am delighted that we are bringing this big game back for our supporters too. They gave the lads tremendous encouragement. It will be their night tomorrow and we’ll be hoping to make it a big one for them.”
City’s confident approach gave them the edge in the early minutes and there is no knowing how confident their grip might have become if Montgomery had not produced one of his several magnificent saves. Lee, 30 yards out on the right, struck a low free-kick towards the far post and Marsh, racing in from the left, turned it wide of Montgomery. It seemed a certain goal, but the Sunderland goalkeeper dived across to make an incredible save.
Briefly, City’s composure was ruffled a little when Portefield beat an offside trap to go clear on the left and from his centre Kerr headed just over the bar.
Then in the 16th minute came the break which put City in front and seemingly on top. A quickly-taken free-kick had Summerbee moving on goal and after his shot had been beaten down the ball was touched on for Towers to drive home a powerful shot.
Shortly afterwards Lee shot narrowly wide from a good position after a brisk run and backward centre by Towers. They kept up the pressure, but a Watson-inspired defence barred the path to goal so effectively that the main battle was pushed out into midfield, where Sunderland made a real impact.
Kerr and Horswill began to win the ball more readily and the starting point for their 36th minute equaliser came when Tueart was pulled down 40 yards out. Corrigan dived out to gather Kerr’s kick, but dropped the ball and City were awarded a free-kick when Tueart swung at the ball as Corrigan tried to retrieve it.
Corrigan took the kick himself and was ordered to retake it after trying to push the ball out to Jeffries. He made the same move that second attempt and Horswill, dashing in to intercept, hooked the ball over Donachie’s head and went after it to slam home a great shot.
Sunderland’s game boomed from that point, with Hughes, Tueart, Halom and Kerr posing a lot of problems to the City defence.
Just before the break, Kerr picked up a through ball from Porterfield and switched inside to head for goal, only to be brought down from behind by Book, who was promptly booked. The tackle left Kerr with a groin injury which restricted his mobility for the rest of the game and makes him a doubtful starter for tomorrow night.
In the early minutes of the second half Montgomery made brilliant saves from Lee and Doyle and pressure was maintained with three accurately-placed corners by Summerbee.
Towers was booked in 55 minutes for lifting his foot dangerously high against Halom and two minutes later Porterfield, having been previously warned for delaying a throw-in and encroaching was booked when he repeated the offence.
Montgomery had to make one more fine save from Lee before City was shattered by and end-to-end move which put Sunderland ahead in the 68th minute.
Malone won the ball inside the Sunderland penalty area and stabbed it forward to Tueart, who released it quickly to Hughes, wide on the left and just inside the City half. Hughes went on strongly and when overhauled by Jeffries at the edge of the penalty area, her switched inside confidently and hit a powerful shot which Corrigan touched but could not prevent from travelling on into the net.
City were level in four minutes, when Summerbee hit an inswinging corner from the left and Montgomery, with March backing into him, could not get enough leverage on the ball to turn it over the top. Instead, it went into goal.
This was one up to City’s gamesmanship rather than a boob by Montgomery, nor was there any case for describing it as a Montgomery own goal, for without his intervention the ball would have finished up in the net in any case.
There was still a lot of fight left in Sunderland and after Doyle had limped off to be replaced by Mellor in 74 minutes, they threw in several promising attacks.
A Halom header from a Tueart cross, brought a fine save from Corrigan, who touched the ball over the bar, and from the corner he was going down again to hold a drive by Tueart.
There was an angry exchange between Towers and Horswill when the Sunderland player was butted in the 83rd minute and this resulted in Towers being ordered off and Horswill booked.
From the free-kick, Hughes’ powerful header brought a diving save from Corrigan.
The disciplinary toll was raised to a staggering five bookings and one dismissal in the 86th minute, when Pitt was Booked for a tackle on Lee.
The pattern of all-out attack by City, leading to furious activity in front of goal, and swift breaks by Sunderland continued right to the finish.
Man-of-the-Match Watson was an inspiration to all around him, but it was heroes all for unstinted effort and courage. Pitt gave a great account of himself, too, in the centre of the Sunderland defence and while Guthrie fought boldly against the elusive Summerbee, Malone produced fine defensive qualities in holding firm on the other flank.
Horswill challenging strongly and decisive in his use of the ball, was a big success in midfield, where Kerr and Porterfield worked tirelessly and to good effect.
Tueart, a target for tough treatment right from the start, gave City a lot of trouble along with Halom and Hughes, and all were prepared to chase back and given defensive support in tight situations.
Montgomery excelled himself and on the final count Sunderland had to give him a big vote of thanks for earning the right to fight again.
F.A. CUP (Fifth Round) Manchester City 2 Sunderland 2.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on February 26 1973.