Ha’way Back When: Jackie spot on to save the day for Sunderland

Mick Docherty finds his way blocked by two Orient defenders
Mick Docherty finds his way blocked by two Orient defenders
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Sunderland 1 Orient 1 – August 27, 1977

Sunderland needed a late Jackie Ashurst penalty to rescue a point against Orient at Roker Park.

A lacklustre display from the home side coupled with the work-rate of a Brisbane Road outfit sitting near the bottom of the Division Two table, made it a frustrating day for a 28,261-strong crowd.

Orient clear the danger against Sunderland, under pressure from Wilf Rostron

Orient clear the danger against Sunderland, under pressure from Wilf Rostron

The match was symptomatic of an inconsistent start to the season from Jimmy Adamson’s side, who had been soundly beaten 3-0 at Hull on the opening day of the season before defeating Burnley by the same scoreline just three days later.

Orient were on top for the majority of the game, but only had a single goal from Peter Kitchen to show for their dominance before Ashurst levelled things for the hosts.

Argus wrote in the Echo: “Orient took Sunderland out of their stride at Roker Park in a game which had the Roker crowd baying anxiously most of the time.

“The goal with which Peter Kitchen put Orient ahead in 28 minutes could have come much earlier and it took a penalty kick by Jackie Ashurst to level the account.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

“Nothing went right for Sunderland from start to finish, with Orient putting in a tremendous work-rate in every department.”

With record signing Bob Lee failing a fitness test, an 18-year-old Alan Brown was thrust into the starting line-up, and it was Sunderland who began on the front foot.

But two early corners failed to produce a clear-cut chance, with the first meaningful effort on target coming courtesy of a driven free-kick 30 yards out from Ashurst that was well covered by the goalkeeper.

Sunderland keeper Barry Siddall would quickly become the busier of the two, though.

First, he recovered quickly after palming a Kitchen header towards the goal, before diving bravely at the striker’s feet shortly afterwards.

Joe Mayo had a goal chalked off for Orient, then Hoadley crashed a free-kick against the bar for the visitors, who were very much the dominant force.

They would not be denied for long, however, as Mayo headed a free-kick back across goal for Kitchen to beat Siddall from close range.

A goal against them failed to spring the home side into life, with only a couple of wasted set pieces and a dipping shot from arnott the only notable action at the other end before half-time.

Almost an hour had passed before Sunderland finally made good use of a free-kick – Rowell laid the ball off for Ashurst to strike, but he drilled his shot narrowly wide of the post.

And when Orient keeper Jackson was forced into a superb save to deny Joe Bolton, Sunderland at last seemed close to an equaliser.

It came from the spot, after Mick Docherty’s cross had been handled by an Orient defender, and that set in motion a frantic final 15 minutes.

Siddall was at full stretch to keep out Chiedozie after he was sent through one-on-one, before Mel Holden twice went close for the Rokermen.

Jackson was on hand to fingertip his header away, and the forward then shot wide on the turn with the last chance of the game.

It was a result and performance that left the home crowd, and Argus, decidedly unimpressed, and it would be another seven games before Sunderland tastest victory again.

Sunderland: Siddall, Docherty, Bolton, Arnott, Waldron (Collins 65), Ashurst, Rostron, Elliott, Holden, Brown, Rowell.

Orient: Jackson, Fisher, Roffey, Allen, Hoadley, Roeder, Chiedozie, Glover, Mayo, Kitchen, Bennett. Sub: Grealish.

Att: 28,261.