THERE were several thousand still queueing for admission and seat vouchers a quarter of an hour before the start of Sunderland’s game against Oxford United at Roker Park this afternoon. The police decided to ask the referee, Mr E Garner of Liverpool, to postpone the start until 3.15pm so that would-be spectators would miss as little of the play as possible. The referee readily agreed. With Porterfield declared fit, Sunderland made only one change from their cup side, with newly-signed Ray Ellison coming in for his League debut at No. 3 in place of Ron Guthrie, who is unfit.
An injury to goalkeeper Roy Burton led to a change in United’s line-up. Kevin Thomas, signed from Tranmere two years ago, and on the open-to-transfer list, was called in to make his debut for United.
There were over 30,000 in the ground at the start, but many more were still waiting outside. Kerr won the toss for Sunderland and decided to start the game attacking the Roker End.
The Sunderland attack was quickly in action, with Shuker conceding a throw-in near the corner flag under pressure from Tueart.
Kerr’s long throw was returned to him and when he lifted the ball into the middle, Clark (C) was troubled to prevent Halom winning in the air.
There was plenty of thrust in United’s first attack, for Curran beating Malone on the left, stormed in to hit a drive which Montgomery did well to turn over the bar.
Pitt gave away a corner when Gough hit a long ball down the wing and when Montgomery pushed out Gough’s kick, Watson hit a long ball down the right. Tueart gave chase but the advantage was always with Shuker.
When an attempted centre by Halom was charged down near the corner flag, Kerr’s long throw was headed behind by Hughes.
Hughes started a long run from inside the Sunderland half and took on two defenders before switching into the middle. He was off balance when he made his shot, however, and the ball curled away wide.
From a throw-in on the left, the ball was pushed into the middle, there Halom headed back for Horswill to shoot wide.
The referee spoke to Lucas for fouls on Hughes and then Ellison.
The attendance had now increased to about 40,000, and they were in good heart, with Sunderland beginning to build up their attack with more conviction.
In the 20th minute Clark (C) challenged Hughes to a long ball down the middle and fell awkwardly. After being examined by his trainer, he was stretchered from the field with a knee injury and Clark (D) came on as substitute.
There was a half chance for Halom, but he came under pressure as he tried to judge a dropping ball and his shot was off target.
Pitt and then Watson took charge of the situation when United went over to the attack.
Cassidy had to receive attention after being tackled by Ellison and the referee had a few words with Ellison before play was resumed with a free-kick to United.
Thomas made a great save from Halom and then had to cover up as Tueart ran in to challenge.
In the 31st minute Fleming was booked for a foul on Hughes. After being spoken to for a foul on Ellison, Cassidy was lectured again for a foul on Montgomery.
Malone had to head behind for a corner when Gough beat Ellison and sent it from the right.
Next came a free-kick at the edge of the penalty area and after this had been headed on and returned to the middle, Roberts tapped the ball past Montgomery, who turned to make a remarkable save with Horswill completing the clearance.
Montgomery was in action again shortly afterwards gathering a cross from Gough as Cassidy came in dangerously from the far post.
The Oxford defence was proving very efficient, indeed, and Sunderland had still to give Thomas his first serious test.
United were in with a chance again when they gained an indirect free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. Malone and Tueart worked through well on the right and when Tueart’s centre was headed out by Shuker, Kerr hit a 25-yard drive which had Thomas leaping to cover as it flashed over the bar.
Then Tueart and Hughes stepped up the pressure on the left with Tueart’s centre being headed away for a corner.
Sunderland were awarded a free-kick when Lucas obstructed Porterfield but there no profit from the kick.
Hughes forced a corner in the first minute and pushed the ball back to provide a shooting chance for Ellison. The newcomer wasted no time over getting in his shot, which shook Thomas, but offside was already being signalled.
Tueart made a good break on the right and his long centre was missed by Lucas when Halom failed to accept a first-time chance and was crowded out when he tried to get the ball into the middle.
A Watson free-kick for a foul by Fleming had Sunderland on the move again, but this ended with Hughes turning the ball out of play.
From Thomas’s kick Tueart headed back down the middle for Halom to shoot over from the edge of the penalty area. Then came a brisk effort by Porterfield, who went through strongly on the right, only to let the ball run behind when he came under pressure from Shuker.
Play was held up while Horswill received treatment for a ankle injury and he resumed after receiving attention.
Montgomery gathered a powerful header by Curran following a corner and then from a free-kick on the right taken by Lucas, Watson cleared with a powerful header.
In the 62nd minute Horswill was called out of the game and replaced by Chambers.
The first call upon Chambers came when he sent an excellent ball to the right for Malone, and Shuker had to race across to sweep the ball when Malone moved it forward for Kerr.
Sunderland claimed for a penalty when Tueart was brought down by Shuker when chasing a lobbed pass by Porterfield. Instead they were awarded a corner.
After Montgomery had turned a swerving drive by Curran over the bar, Sunderland broke from the corner with Hughes going well on the left. The ball was played through into the penalty area but Porterfield stumbled after collecting it and was well covered before he could recover,
Then came a foul on Kerr at the angle of the penalty area. Kerr chipped to the far post, where Hughes headed over. Thomas had to dive out to Hughes’ feet when Kerr lobbed on from a Tueart pass.
Sunderland quickened their game with Tueart making a bold run on the right, and when his centre was pushed out, Porterfield brought a fine save from Thomas with a fierce drive from the edge of the penalty area.
A Halom header struck Thomas on the chest and when Sunderland came back again with Malone centring strongly from the right Tueart shot into the side-netting.
The tempo was still quickening and when Tueart was challenged by Roberts 30 yards out, the referee spotted that the United player had used his hands.
Kerr chipped the free kick wide on the left, where Ellison was waiting to hammer it back into the middle and from a partial clearance WATSON hammered in a right-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area which had Thomas beaten all the way, to put Sunderland ahead in the 80th minute.
Sunderland had a lucky escape when Gough won the ball against Ellison at the edge of the penalty area and went on to shoot wide from an excellent position.
SUNDERLAND: Montgomery, Malone, Ellison, Horswill, Watson, Pitt, Kerr, Hughes W, Halom, Porterfield, Tueart. Sub. Chambers.
OXFORD UNITED: Thomas, Lucas, Shuker, Roberts, Clarke C, Evanson, Gough, Fleming, Cassidy, Curran, Aylott. Sub. Clarke D.
Referee: Mr E Garner of Liverpool.
HOW THE GOALS CAME
WATSON 80 min.
NOT a game to remember, but the important thing for Sunderland was that it brought them two valuable points against the most capable defensive side they have played all season.
There was little sparkle in the Sunderland attack until the later stages and they had to be thankful for the brilliant work of Watson in holding together a defence which knew a lot of anxiety.
It was a promising debut by Ellison, who helped to lay on the match-winning goal snatched by Watson.
Oxford’s Colin Clarke, stretchered from the field in the 20th minute of the Sunderland v Oxford United game at Roker Park this afternoon, was later taken to hospital with a suspected leg fracture.
Story taken from the Football Echo on March 3 1973.