RAY TREACY, Swindon Town’s close season signing, may not score a better goal all season than the one he volleyed past Jimmy Montgomery to give his side a 1–0 lead over Sunderland in 51 minutes at Roker Park on Saturday. But he could not have known that his super goal was going to have such dire consequences, spurring Sunderland to furious effort and a brilliant half hour which had them storming into a 3-1 lead. There was still a “gift” goal to come for Swindon, but Sunderland had firmly and deservedly staked their claim to both points.
With Swindon not prepared to risk a great deal and Sunderland hurrying into a lot of trouble, the first half carried no hint of the five-goal thriller to come in the second.
Sunderland, more positive in their efforts if not in their accomplishments, chalked up a string of half-chances, largely through the brave challenge of Malone, Kerr, Lathan and Porterfield. But with an old hand in Rogers to guide them, there was always the danger of Swindon forcing a break.
The 0–0 score-line at half-time meant that Sunderland still had it all to do and when Rogers prompted a Trollope overlap in the 51st minute and Treacy volleyed home the full back’s cross the big question was whether they could find the important touches which had eluded them in the first half.
The early minutes of their fresh surge did not bring too much encouragement, for a well-taken header by McGiven came back from a post and then Downsborough made a fine save from a close-range drive by Kerr.
They had to survive a couple of breaks by Peplow, who was twice clear enough to have extended Swindon’s lead. But he put his shot within reach of Montgomery and his second swung away wide of goal.
Butler was booked for a body-check on Malone, which was the only way they seemed able to check the Scot’s powerful runs from deep positions. Then a bold run on the left by Porterfield won enough space for a shot from the edge of the penalty area which was only inches wide.
Downsborough had one more shot to save from Kerr before Sunderland opened up for a burst of three goals in 18 minutes.
Watson and then Kerr made the running on the left and when Coleman had a shot beaten down the ball moved out to Tueart on the right and he hammered his drive well out of Downsborough’s reach.
This was in 66 minutes and six minutes later Tueart sent in a long throw from the right. Burrows struggled to prevent Watson from reaching the ball and when neither made contact it travelled on for Lathan to direct a confident header well out of Downsborough’s reach.
Swindon’s reaction was immediate and they had the Sunderland defence in all sorts of trouble without being able to claim a pay-off, thanks largely to the splendid coverage supplied by Horswill and the magnificent play of top-form Montgomery.
With only six minutes to go Swindon’s hopes appeared to be killed when Tueart moved smartly on the left. When the ball spooned up from his cross, Watson headed down and Kerr went clear to ram home a fine goal.
But defensive uncertainty which had been evident throughout the game showed itself within a minute, for Pitt’s half-hit back-pass never looked like reaching Montgomery and with the goalkeeper diving out bravely Rogers managed to touch it past him just inside the post.
Porterfield, under the impression that a free-kick was being signalled and not a goal, placed the ball and kicked it away, an action which led to him being booked by the referee.
This was not an entirely fluent display by Sunderland, who were unable to cash in on the command which they established for long periods and were also desperately near to being punished for defensive errors which allowed Swindon to find unexpected gaps.
But the intensity of their effort never eased and the manner in which they stormed back into match-winning form after conceding a goal provided first-class entertainment for a small but appreciative crowd.
Output at the front might have picked up quicker if Watson had not been slowed down by a couple of ankle injuries, for he needed all his power to cope with the close marking of Burrows.
The persistence of Tueart and Lathan gained due reward – Tueart for his ability to create and use space and Lathan for his skilful screening of the ball against tough opposition.
Kerr, tireless and imaginative, was the big force in midfield, where both Porterfield and McGiven were full partners with their skipper in helping to impose control.
Horswill was the outstanding player in the back four. He gave nothing away in a cultured display and retrieved several desperate situations with his immaculate timing.
Malone was in the back four, too, but the attacking play which he blended with his defensive responsibilities made him an exciting support player in attack. His challenging play demanded the closest attention by the opposition and won space and opportunity for the men ahead of him.
Pitt made most of his own troubles by odd moments of uncertainty, while Coleman, though using space well and pushing forward at every opportunity, has anxious moments while under pressure.
From Montgomery came a vintage display in line with the very high standard he has achieved since the start of the season. He found the right answer on the several occasions when he was left exposed and could not be blamed for either of the goals registered against him.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on September 4 1972.