Sunderland are still climbing towards top
SUNDERLAND cleared away another League obstacle on their way to Wembley by beating Cardiff City 2-1 at Roker Park yesterday afternoon. It was not the tidiest of performances and they were severely stretched in defence at times by a City side fighting desperately, but not unfairly, for safety points. Yet Sunderland had long periods of command, particularly in the first half and only the capable work of goalkeeper Urwin prevented them from reaching a winning position before half time.
It was not until midway through the second half that they were able to start their push towards victory and even then they were helped on their way by a hotly-disputed penalty. City argued that Bell had been pushed before he handled and that, in any case, the incident was outside the penalty area, but the referee stuck to his decision refusing to consult his linesmen. Despite the delay and controversy, Tueart confidently slammed home the equaliser from the penalty spot, with Urwin going the wrong way.
There was more satisfaction in the winning goal, snatched in elegant style by Hughes in the 77th minute, but just before the end Montgomery was pressed into a fine save from Reece, whose fierce shot might well have grabbed a late point for City.
On balance the result was fair enough and Sunderland could be well pleased with the fact that they have started their sequence of five games in nine days with two victories. They have taken 18 out of 20 points in their last ten home games and have picked up nine points out of a possible 16 away from home in the same period.
This remarkable in-flow of points has carried them since December 2 from a position in which they were separated from a relegation spot only by goal ratio into contention for a place behind already-promoted Burnley and Queen’s Park Rangers.
Five of the clubs placed immediately above them have only one more game to play, while Sunderland have five more games in which to bridge a four-point gap.
City had extra men back in defence for most of the first half and though this, denied space to Sunderland’s front runner, there was still a lot of activity in front of the City goal, with Urwin frequently called upon.
After Halom had headed narrowly wide from a Tueart cross, Urwin had to turn a well-hit 40-yarder from Tueart over the bar. From the left wing corner, Hughes powered in a header which had Urwin going to concede another corner. Then Halom headed against the bar when a Kerr free-kick was headed on by Tueart.
There was so much pressure on the City goal that it seemed only a question of time before Sunderland stormed into the lead. But the first goal came at the other end, when uncertainty in the middle of the Sunderland defence, which had been evident from the start, allowed an opening for Phillips.
Woodruff took a long throw and Montgomery came off his line to join Ashurst and Young in challenging for it. All three failed to make contact and a backward header by McCullough sent Kerr into a losing heading duel with Phillips, who nodded the ball down into an empty goal.
Halom could well have collected two or three goals in the furious assault which Sunderland mounted after this goal with City defending desperately. Tueart and Hughes joined in the shooting, too, while a Kerr free kick struck the face of the bar with Urwin in difficulties.
Just before the break Tueart had the ball in the City net from a Kerr pass but offside had already been signalled against Kerr.
Montgomery, Bolton, and Young performed rescue acts to deny goals for City in their spirited opening to the second half, but City did not lose their defensive slant, relying upon quick breaks into a defence stretched out in attacking play.
Porterfield, who had bruised a toe in the first half found himself in difficulties and was replaced by McGiven in the 67th minute. One minute later, Sunderland were level.
Ashurst lobbed a clearance to the right hand edge of the City penalty area, where Bell, challenged by Halom as the ball arrived, handled and Tueart rammed home a great shot from the penalty spot.
Urwin made fine saves from Tueart and Halom before Sunderland moved in for the match-winning goal in 77 minutes.
Young started the move with a well-placed pass down the wing to Kerr, whose pinpointed centre was met by Hughes at the near post and accurately headed out of Urwin’s reach just inside the far post.
Reece raised City’s hopes with a great shot which was well saved by Montgomery, but Sunderland were also in the hunt for more goals with a Hughes chip which went behind from the bar and a much clearer claim for a penalty when Hughes was dragged down in going to meet a right wing cross.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Malone, Bolton, Chambers, Ashurst, Young, Kerr, Hughes, Halom, Porterfield (McGiven), Tueart.
Cardiff City: Urwin, Dwyer, Bell, Phillips, Murray, Morgan, Reece, McCullough, Woodruff, Hoy and Anderson.
Referee: Mr G Hartley of Wakefield
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on April 24 1973.