Ha'way Back When: Relive the drama and goals from Sunderland's 7-0 thrashing of Oxford United

Sunderland and Oxford have not met since 1999 as the two sides played out a goalless draw at the Manor Ground.

Thursday, 30th August 2018, 7:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th August 2018, 8:11 pm
Danny Dichio scores against Oxford United.

But their last meeting on Wearside was a far more eventful one, with the Black Cats inflicting a heavy defeat on the U's at the Stadium of Light on September 19, 1999.

Peter Reid's side entered the clash unbeaten but, with star striker Kevin Phillips sidelined with a long-term injury, there were fears that the U's visit to Wearside could spell the end of the fine form.

SAFC coverage in association with John Hogg.

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In reality, the absence of Phillips had little bearing on Sunderland's performance as they dominated throughout.

Oxford could only watch on as braces from Michael Bridges, Danny Dichio and Alex Rae - as well as a Michael Gray strike - handed Reid's men a comprehensive 7-0 win.

Watch: Relive the highlights from that day here.It was free-flowing and clinical performance from the Black Cats who were keen to bounce back from the previous season's play-off heartache against Charlton Athletic.

That win saw Sunderland take another step towards the top of the First Division, with the side eventually clinching the title after a strong season.

Sunderland legend Gary Rowell in action.

The result remains Oxford's record league defeat - while it will forever be remembered Sunderland fans as one of their finest performances in many a year.

Sunderland legend Gary Rowell made his debut against Oxford United

When Sunderland take on Oxford United this weekend, Gary Rowell may find it hard to resist casting an eye back.

The Seaham-born attacker made his Black Cats debut against the U’s back in December 1975 when he came on as a late substitute for Mel Holden in a 1-0 win for the Wearsiders.

Little did Rowell or the supporters know that his brief cameo would help kick-start a glittering career in the North East.

His lengthy stay at Roker Park saw Rowell, clinical both as a deep-lying striker and midfielder, quickly become a fans’ favourite, with supporters calling for senior England honours after a string of fine displays.

Rowell’s tally of 102 goals became a new Sunderland record – only to be surpassed by Kevin Phillips – and could have been extended were it not for a string of niggling injuries.

Perhaps his finest moment in a Sunderland shirt came in February 1979, as he netted a hat-trick during a 4-1 demolition of Newcastle United at St James’s Park in a fine performance from the Wearsiders.

After leaving the Black Cats in 1984 as part of Len Ashurst’s rebuild, Rowell spent time at Norwich, Middlesbrough, Brighton, Dundee, Carlisle and Burnley – but he failed to find the net regularly as he once did.

Rowell, who has a weekly SAFC column in the Echo, retired in 1990, as he called time on a stunning career which began against this weekend’s opposition.

And that memory of making his debut for his boyhood club is something that he knows can never be taken away.

“It was just a 20-minute cameo but it meant the world to me as it meant I played in a first team red and white shirt at Roker Park and no one could ever take that away,” Rowell told the Echo head of the visit of Oxford.“I remember being sent out to warm up and ran towards the Fulwell End, where I had stood watching Sunderland so many times before, then sent on the pitch for my big moment.”

Prolific Rowell, who made 266 appearances for Sunderland, scored 102 goals in all competitions, surpassing Len Shackleton’s post-war record.