Sunderland 1 Bristol Rovers 1 – November 22, 1975: Sunderland dropped their irst home points of the season in an outstanding Roker Park clash with impressive visitors Bristol Rovers.
The 1-1 draw proved to be one of only two game the Rokermen failed to win at home, out of 21, on the way to returning to Division One in super style.
Fourth-top Rovers were expected to be a tough nut to crack, and they proved their own promotion credentials in a gripping game.
Rovers led from the ninth minute and Sunderland struggled to get their game into gear in the irst half, but the hosts were dominant on the resumption and, but for some brave defending and goalkeeping, and a proligacy up front, could have snatched both points in a rousing second period.
Argus, writing in the Echo, commented: “It was too much to hope that Sunderland’s record of taking every home point would endure for a full season.
But Second Division football of the positive variety could not have had a better advertisement than this action-packed 1-1 draw.
“Rovers, always in contention and never content to defend the surprise goal which they snatched through Williams, played their full part in raising the game’s excitement value to a high level.
“But it was their defensive qualities, in the end, which gained them their point, for their rearguard came under almost unbearable pressure as Sunderland fought aggressively for match-winning goals throughout a onesided second half.” Rovers got a huge slice of luck in their early opening goal.
Mel Holden fouled Stanton 20 yards out and Parsons, instead of shooting, angled the free-kick across the box for right-back Williams, who sent in a powerful drive.
Jimmy Montgomery, unsighted at irst, reached it over his head, but the pace of the strike beat him and travelled through his hands into the net.
Rovers’ famed Smash and Grab double act of Bannister and Warboys caused Sunderland problems, with Bannister hitting the bar, then a slip by Tony Towers let in Warboys, who was denied only by excellent work by Bobby Moncur.
Dick Malone, Jeff Clarke and Pop Robson all made valuable interceptions to keep out the lively visitors, as Sunderland struggled to ind their form.
But the home side were much improved on the restart.
Towers failed with a penalty appeal, with the referee indicating a dive as he got on the end of Bobby Kerr’s pass.
Holden headed just wide, then was closer still when nodding a Malone cross goalwards.
The equaliser duly arrived on 61 minutes, with Malone moving smoothly through the middle to find Kerr on the edge of the box.
The little Scot controlled the ball quickly and moved it onto his left foot before placing a brilliant, low drive just inside the left-hand post and out of keeper Eadie’s reach.
Sunderland’s tails were up and Rovers had a ight on their hands to stay in the game, though they were up for the challenge of the non-stop assault on their goal.
Argus reported: “Everyone joined in the pattern of inding the shortest route to the Rovers goal.
Even Clarke surged forward in one attack and was going well until he was pulled down just outside the penalty area.
“But there was to be no matchwinning break, the last chance disappearing near the inish, when Eadie pushed a Kerr free-kick straight to Robson, whose drive from eight yards lifted over the bar.
The draw kept leaders Sunderland two points clear of Bolton, with Bristol City third and Rovers fourth, level on points with Notts County.
* Two nights later, a crowd of 7,874 paid £5,200 into the kitty for retired former Sunderland players Ritchie Pitt and Bobby Park’s testimonial as the Wearsiders drew 0-0 with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. Both were only 23.
SUNDERLAND: Montgomery, Malone, Henderson, Towers, Clarke, Moncur, Kerr, Holden, Halom, Robson, Porterield. Sub: Gibb.
BRISTOL ROVERS: Eadie, Williams, Parsons, Day, Taylor, Smith, Stanton, Fearnley, Warboys, Bannister, Prince. Sub: Staniforth.
Ref: G M Trevett (Eckles).
ELSEWHERE IN THE FOOTBALLING WORLD
* Newcastle United won 2-1 away at Norwich City. Colin Sullivan had put the Canaries in front early in the irst half, but two late goals from Geoff Nulty saved the day for the Mags.
* Middlesbrough lost 2-1 away at West Ham United. David Mills scored for Boro, but Billy Jennings and Pat Holland goals clinched the points for the Hammers.
* Hartlepool United beat Stockport 3-0 in the FA Cup first round, while Gateshead won 3-1 at Grimsby.
* In the Sunday League Division Five, Footy Shop destroyed Hampden Park 12-0 with goals from Tommy Middlesmist (3), Les Hewitt, Tommy Taylor, Bob Graham and Herbie Taylor.
In Division Three, Hylton Castle won 2-1 against Sunderland PTE, with David Adamson scoring both goals fom Hylton.
TV: Making Toys, Dr Who, Kojak, The Legend of Robin Hood, On the Move, Anno Domini, The Basil Brush Show, Open Door, Orders from Above, Strike That Rock.
1 – Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody); Others – Hot Chocolate (You Sexy Thing), Billy Connolly (DIVORCE), Jim Capaldi (Love Hurts), Bay City Rollers (Money Honey), David Bowie (Space Oddity), Rod Stewart (This Old Heart Of Mine), John Lennon (Imagine), Steeleye Span (All Around My Hat), Roxy Music (Love Is The Drug), Jigsaw (Sky High), Maxine Nightingale (Right Back Where We Started From), Glen Campbell (Rhinestone Cowboy), The Stylistics (Na Na Is The Saddest Word).
CINEMA: Airport 1975; Bachelor of Arts; Man About the House; Where Eagles Dare; The Eiger Sanction; Gunight at the OK Corral; The Towering Inferno; Bit the Bullet; The Man from Hong Kong.
NIGHTLIFE: Shiney Row Social had The Right Idea, Pinnochio and Hollywood performing on stage. The Velvet Opera and Wally Harper played at the Doxford Park Social.