Sunderland 1 Charlton Athletic 0: August 19, 1978
Sunderland opened their Second Division campaign on a winning note against Charlton – but the performance left a lot to be desired.
A scrappy match in the Roker Park sunshine – which saw 18-year-old Gordon Chisholm handed his debut by manager Jimmy Adamson – was won by a fifth-minute goal as Gary Rowell scored from a well-worked and original free-kick routine.
Rowell failed in an early penalty appeal before Sunderland struck after Jeff Clarke’s marauding 30-yard charge was halted by a foul on the edge of the box.
Bobby Kerr ran in to take the kick but stopped a split second before shooting, deciding instead to pretend to argue with team-mates.
While Charlton were dumbfounded, Mick Docherty chipped the ball to Joe Bolton, who was completely unmarked on the left and from his header Rowell nodded past keeper Wood from close range.
Charlton’s Derek Hales had a chance blocked by Jackie Ashurst before Terry Brisley was guilty of an incredible miss when keeper Barry Siddall, having raced out to gather the ball, lost it to the winger. With a gaping goal to aim at, Brisley astonishingly sliced his shot across goal and out for a goal-kick.
An error-strewn clash saw Charlton take command and Sunderland had to survive another Siddall mistake when he almost handled outside the box when challenging Hales.
The goalkeeper, though, stood firm amid Charlton’s dominance and had luck on his side, too, when full-back Mick Henderson, clearing up as Hales looked to pounce, sliced a wild clearance inches wide of his own post.
Adamson’s side relied on the long ball, despite not having an aerial presence up front, and chances were few and far between, although Kerr was just over with a fierce first-time drive.
And Siddall did well in the last minute to preserve victory, spreading himself well to deny Brisley.
Manager Adamson was as unhappy with the performance as the 20,486-strong crowd.
He said: “We did not play well and the anxiety complex which hit both players and crowd had a destructive effect. Football is meant to be played with a chuckle in the boots, but there was no way that Sunderland could relax enough to play it that way.”
On the successful free-kick ploy, Adamson laughed: “We have been trying this one for some time now and I was pleased to see it work like a dream. In fact, it worked better than it normally does in training!”
Sunderland: Siddall, Henderson, Bolton, Chisholm, Clarke, Ashurst, Kerr, Rostron (Lee 75), Entwistle, Docherty, Rowell.
Charlton: Wood, Campbell, Berry, Tydeman, Shaw, Dugdale, Brisley, Hales, Flanagan, Madden, Gritt. Sub: Robinson
Referee: Joe Worrall (Warrington). Att: 20,486