Ha'way Back When: Second successive six-of-the-best gives Sunderland lift-off in fight for survival
Sunderland 6 West Ham Utd 0 '“ March 5, 1977Sunderland climbed out of the First Division drop zone after another sensational six-hit performance.
Fresh from a 6-1 demolition of West Brom, Jimmy Adamson’s men hammered relegation rivals West Ham 6-0 to make it four wins on the trot – a magnificent response to a miserable run of 10 games without a league goal.
Kevin Arnott, Gary Rowell and Shaun Elliott were figureheads in the bright and breezy display.
Argus enthused in the Football Echo: “They played exciting football all the way through, with the young players outstanding in shaping the attacking pattern and Holden and Lee fighting like heroes at the front.”
Sunderland’s scoring streak – 16 goals in three matches, with Middlesbrough thumped 4-0 in the first of the three – was their hottest run in front of goal in 52 years.
Boss Adamson was delighted with the goal rush after the epic drought, but more pleased with the impressive all-round team performance.
He told the Echo: “A little bit of it can go down to organisation, but Dave Merrington and I have no intention of blowing our own trumpets.
“It is alright talking about coaching, but you can’t teach players to show the sort of flair which is now being produced.
“The players have done it themselves.
“We might not be out of the woods yet, but we have got another branch out of the way.
“A few weeks ago, people were asking who goes down with Sunderland?
“Now it is a case of who stays up with Sunderland? We’ve got a lot of people worried.”
West Ham – who came into the match on a similar three-match winning run – were never able to cope with rampant Sunderland, who had confidence oozing through the side.
Only three minutes elapsed before the Wearsiders made the breakthrough.
Rowell won the ball well on the left, beating Billy Bonds and crossing for Mel Holden to beat Mervyn Day with a well-judged shot.
Six minutes later, it was 2-0 and almost game over.
Bobby Kerr’s cheeky backheel set Arnott away to cross for Rowell, whose shot beat keeper Day and went in despite Bonds’ desperate efforts to keep it out.
The fairytale start was supplemented by a third goal on the half hour.
Day could only fist away a Kerr corner and Colin Waldron lofted the ball back into the area, where Holden’s header had the keeper backpedalling in vain as it hit the net.
Three up against the wind, nerveless Sunderland continued their domination with the breeze at their backs on the resumption.
Kerr accepted a gift, intercepting Kevin Lock’s slack pass along the 18-yard line to ram home his first goal of the season.
The Hammers were nailed by a fifth goal on 64 minutes.
Rowell took Joe Bolton’s throw in his stride, cutting inside and hitting a tremendous, left-foot drive which flashed between Day and the post.
Sunderland maintained their assault on the Londoners’ goal, adding a late sixth when Bob Lee sprang the offside trap, collecting a long Mick Docherty pass on halfway, and stormed through to fire past Day as the keeper advanced.
Argus commented: “The tally ended at six.
“Though it did not wipe out the stigma of that 8-0 defeat at Upton Park (in 1968), the terms of the win was just as conclusive.”
Sunderland: Siddall, Docherty, Bolton, Arnott, Waldron, Ashurst, Kerr, Elliott (Brown 78), Holden, Lee, Rowell
West Ham: Day, Bonds, Lampard, Otulakowski, Green, Lock, Robson, Radford, Devonshire, Brooking, Jennings. Sub: Pike