SUNDERLAND’S educated football had Aston Villa on their knees at Villa Park last night. They have not shown better quality in their play so far in their promising start to the season, but instead of claiming the victory which was their due, they finished on the wrong end of 2-0 scoreline through astonishing errors from two dead-ball situations. The extent to which Sunderland dominated is measured by the fact that they had forced nine corner kicks before Villa claimed their first after 69 minutes and their final count was 11-3 in Sunderland’s favour.
Goals? – The chances were made well enough chiefly through the industry of Lathan and Kerr, but bad luck, slow finishing and the excellent work of goalkeeper Cumbes enabled Villa to escape. Sunderland lined up so well in their attacking game right from the start that the Villa defence was harassed into errors which should have been punished.
Lathan’s challenging play had them all worried and after his thrust on the left following a through ball from Coleman to Tueart had been cleared Cumbes was so unnerved that he handled the ball outside the penalty area to check another break.
Then Tueart and Kerr linked on the left and after Lathan had won the ball with Cumbes out of position, a Hughes lob was cleared from the line by Nicholl.
The pressure was maintained so well that it must have been everyone’s bet that the first goal would be going into the Villa net – and soon. But in the 25th minute a clumsy challenge on Evans by Malone just outside the penalty area was deemed a foul by the referee. Graydon took the kick, and, finding a gap in the Sunderland wall, hammered a fierce shot straight at Montgomery.
The danger should have ended there, but Montgomery, having covered the shot, failed to hold it and it rebounded straight to Evans, whose follow up drive was a winner all the way.
Porterfield send a right-foot shot over the top as Sunderland fought back strongly and Aitken’s panic under pressure created several dangerous situations for the Villa defence.
Nicholl had to go in strongly when Lathan looked like beating him in a run on goal and then Cumbes fisted out a Watson header from a Tueart cross.
It was nearer still when Ashurst played the ball through a tackle on the left and kept going to put over a powerful centre. It cleared the middle and when Watson picked it up on the right, his lob into the middle was pushed behind for a corner by Cumbes.
With both Malone and Coleman pushing forward strongly Villa were thrown back on the defensive and must have been relieved to go in at half time with a flattering 1-0 lead.
Hamilton whom Villa substituted for Graydon in the second half missed one of Villa’s few chances when lobbing over after a Nicholl free-kick had been headed on by Lochhead.
Great work by Malone and Tueart on the right produced Sunderland’s next chance, but a first time clearance, by Nicholl prevented Lathan from making contact with a brave attempt to get in a diving header.
Montgomery had to drive along his line to turn away a shot from Evans and after Tueart, put through by Malone, had sent an angled drive narrowly wide, Villa pushed up for their first corner in the 69th minute. This was followed a minute later by a splendid effort by Evans whose overhead kick from ten yards was cleared from the line by Coleman with Montgomery beaten.
Sunderland brought on Hamilton in 74 minutes for Porterfield, whose play was beginning to show the effect of exhausting effort.
The game still looked like swinging Sunderland’s way and measure of Villa’s desperation showed when both Horswill and Kerr, up with the attack, had to receive treatment for injuries after being brought down on their approaches to goal.
Sunderland hopes of a game-saving goal were dashed with only four minutes to go when McMahon was obstructed six yards outside the penalty area. Rioch stepped up to take the kick and surprisingly Sunderland did not set up a wall to cover the goal. Rioch’s fierce drive was directed just inside the right hand post and Montgomery was so badly placed that he made no effort to get across it.
The hopes that Sunderland might have at least a consolation goal to reward their effort was dashed in the last minute when Tueart headed against a post from close range and saw his follow-up header scrambled away by Cumbes.
Sunderland were a very good looking side indeed and a host of visiting managers and officials were suitably impressed. Much of the attraction lay in their willingness to play attacking football and here was one more instance of them being desperately unlucky not to gain reward.
Kerr, inspiration and midfield power-house, was a striking example of how Sunderland are prepared to work at their game. He was outstanding for his leadership and unflagging effort and along with Lathan, Tueart and Malone played a major role in creating so much discomfort for the Villa defence.
Watson still troubled perhaps by the after-effect of his pre-season ankle injury was a tireless worker too, while Hughes, having his first full outing of the season pushed himself hard to make a big contribution without being able to turn hard-earned progress to advantage.
Horswill and Ashurst fought it out comfortably in the centre of defence with Ashurst coming out well on the top in his battle with Lochhead, who knows all the tricks of the trade, but could to make them pay against this exciting new arrival the first team scene.
Coleman had a first class game reading the situations well to make his helpful sorties into attacks and Porterfield was a power in midfield until it was decided to send Hamilton on for the closing minutes.
Montgomery had to take a lot of responsibility for Villa’s goals though in the sort of situation which confronted him last night he may well have been unsighted.
Aston Villa: Cumbes, Gidman, Aitken, Rioch, Nicholl, Graydon, McMahon, Lochhead, Vowden, Evans.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Malone, Coleman, Horswill, Ashurst, Porterfield, (Hamilton), Hughes, Kerr, Watson, Lathan, Tueart.
Referee: Mr A. W. S Jones of Ormskirk.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on September 28 1972.