YESTERDAY’S news that the FA Cup (Third Round) draw had set Sunderland the task of visiting Notts County brought from Manager Bob Stokoe the comment that it could have been a great deal worse.
He could also have added that it is a pairing which will not prove any kind of distraction at a time when the quickest possible improvement in League position must be the top priority.
Sunderland’s Cup aspirations can go on ice while the task of building on a winning break-through at Portsmouth on Saturday receives undivided attention. This success followed nine games without a win and was, infact, only their second win in 14 games.
Bearing in mind the quality of football they have played in many of those games, particularly away from home, it is incredible that they should be grouped among the least successful sides in the Second Division. Ironic, too, that they should made the winning break in dramatic style by claiming two goals in the last three minutes of the game which had seen them operate some way below recent standard.
There should be a boost from that win and if confidence continues to mount they can make it a hot reception for sixth placed Preston North End at Roker Park on Saturday.
Whether they will be tackling Preston in the same formation as the experimental success at Fratton Park remains to be seen. In the meantime, Mr Stokoe will have to wait until he can assess the progress which Saturday’s casualties make in the next day or two.
Both Jimmy Montgomery and Mick Horswill missed training today and fitness checks are needed on both Bobby Kerr and Dennis Tueart.
Montgomery received a kick in the groin when Dick Reynolds followed through, dangerously and Horswill’s injury was a kick at the top of a thigh. “We hope that the next 24 hours will bring good news of both players,” said Mr Stokoe.
Kerr and Tueart received painful knocks, but are not likely to be restricted in training.
SUNDERLAND youth team will be staging their most attractive FA Youth Cup-tie since they entertained Leeds United nearly three years ago when they take on Preston NE juniors in a third round tie tomorrow night (7.30).
They last met Preston in this competition in 1967, when Preston were a hot tip to carry off the trophy. Sunderland beat them 3-0 and went on to record their first-ever trophy triumph by disposing of Manchester United, Scunthorpe United and then Birmingham City in a two-leg final. It was a remarkable achievement for the Sunderland youngster because they won all eight games played in the competition and scored 20 goals against three.
They have given themselves a flying start by claiming first-attempt wins over Barrow (3-0) and Rotherham United (4-1) and must have an excellent chance of playing winning football against Preston tomorrow night.
Of the pool of players eligible for this under-18 competition only Bobby Mitchell, who received knee ligament injuries against Hull City Reserves in September, is not available.
There will be no decision on line-up until tomorrow morning, but Ray Yeoman, who is in charge of the youth team, will be able to name a full strength side in view of the fact that there are no Reserve team calls this week with the cancellation of the game against Chesterfield Reserves, which should have been played tomorrow night.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on December 12 1972.