MANAGER BOB STOKOE missed Sunderland’s deserved 2–0 success over Hull City at Boothferry Park on Saturday, because he was on a player-vetting mission in Scotland. But he would be pleased to know that the master plan worked well in his absence, with his players brave enough to stay competitive in a hard game. They absorbed in the first half, adjusted in the second, and had the satisfaction of knowing that they had come out on top merit.
Overall, it was a performance which spoke highly of the spirit within the team with their big occasion against Leeds United in the F.A. Cup Final at Wembley only a fortnight away. They went into it without three of their Cup side–Watson and Pitt through sickness and Horswill starting a two-match suspension–and City gave them early warnings that it was going to be tough going all the way. But they shirked nothing and maintained their challenge right to the finish.
Young and Chambers, who deputised for Halom Hughes at Burnley, were replacements in different roles, with Ashurst wearing the No. 5. All three gave excellent accounts of themselves, while Halom and Hughes, returning after recovering from injuries, repeated the treatment handed out to Arsenal in the Semi-Final by snatching the match-winning goals.
After the Semi-Final, Leeds United manager Mr Don Revie said that he would have Sunderland watched in all their games before the Final. This promise has been carried out so far. His representative at Boothferry Park was Sid Owens, who added one more chapter to the dossier which is going to decide United’s strategy in the Final.
It is doubtful whether the latest addition would contain anything fresh, because Sunderland’s performance, though competent enough, was not of Cup vintage.
It could, in fact, be as misleading to Leeds as were the mistakes carried out by Arsenal experts Bertie Mee and George Male ... except for the inevitable entry that goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery ranks with the best in the game and is capable of pulling off world-class saves which carry match-winning inspiration.
One demonstration of his superb skill on Saturday brought a round of applause from Hull players and the crowd after they had overcome their disbelief.
The game itself was a cheering start for Sunderland to a sequence of five games in nine days before they get down to the task of building up for the Wembley occasion .
They had to weather an early storm as City came at them strongly and Kerr was lucky to escape serious injury in the first minute when fouled by Knighton.
Guthrie, Young and Malone held on well under pressure and Ashurst’s close marking kept an effective break upon Pearson, City’s leading scorer and a target for several top clubs. Montgomery covered a close-range-header by Pearson, but City were nearest to a break when Knighton took a free-kick on the left and Greenwood, running across the goal, first-timed it just over the bar.
Tueart and Halom had both taken heavy knocks as City put emphasis on the physical side, but there was no weakening in resolve throughout the team. The game was levelling off before the break, with Halom, Tueart and Kerr thrusting forward and Hughes’s control and pace beginning to worry the home defence.
McKechnie, in the Hull goal was relieved to see a 25-yarder from Halom flash narrowly wide.
The pace of the game was beginning to tell on Kaye and Knighton and Neill was far from comfortable in the middle against the persistent challenge of Halom.
Sunderland were near to taking the lead in the first few seconds of the second half, when a Chambers corner was headed on from the near post by Tueart and Hughes dived in at the far post with a header which had McKechnie diving along his line to save.
A goal was not long delayed, however, for in the 49th minute Tueart was bursting through the middle when he was obstructed by Kaye, who had failed to match strides with him. Kerr took the kick moving the ball square for Tueart to try a shot. When the ball was blocked, Tueart followed up to shoot against McKechnie’s body and Halom was in the right sport to tap it through into an empty seat.
Montgomery made fine saves from Hawley and Knighton as City hit back strongly, and as the surge weakened Sunderland took over with Hughes, Tueart and Halom revelling in the strong support from midfield.
Malone added to McKechnie’s discomfort by hitting long centres into the middle, one of which was headed just wide by Porterfield.
Kerr went close with an angled drive before being taken out of the game and replaced by McGiven in the 67th minute.
Then in the 73rd minute came what could have been a turning point of the game when Young conceded a free-kick with a challenge on Pearson just outside the angle of the penalty area.
Neill came up to take the kick and sent it low into the middle, where Greenwood moving in from the far post, turned it wide of Montgomery, who had started in the wrong direction and appeared to be well beaten by the change of line. Monty’s incredible reflexes then came into play, for he checked, dived back along the line, and scooped the ball out with one hand.
It proved to be a last chance for City, because Sunderland’s flowing play put them in charge, though they had to wait until two minutes from the end for the “killer” goal. This came when Halom hit an accurate centre from the right wing and Hughes powered in a header which McKechnie could only push against the underside of the bar and into the net.
Malone and Guthrie were outstanding in defence, with Malone distinctly unfortunate to be booked for a tackle on Pearson in view of the more serious offences which were allowed to go unpunished.
Young was extremely effective, too, in his usual no-nonsense style, while there was a lot to like about the way Ashurst applied himself to a difficult task.
Porterfield, Kerr and Chambers had the midfield battle swinging Sunderland’s way in the second half and McGiven, having his first look at League football since his cartilage operation, proved a willing enough worker when taking over from Kerr.
Halom and Hughes made a welcome return to duty and along with Tueart, showed a lot of initiative in hammering out an attacking pattern which gave full rein to their flair without reaching the higher standards they have produced on big occasions.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on April 23 1973.