SUNDERLAND’S decisive 4-0 victory over Brighton at Roker Park on Saturday marked the end of an unhappy sequence which has left them without a home win since September 30. It also gave them a wining start to the second half of their season, in which Manager Bob Stokoe has forecast “they’ll go like a bomb.” This was a highly-promising pipe opener and though it was achieved against moderate opposition, there was every reason to be pleased with the return to winning form.
The winning margin could well have been doubled and this in itself was a measure of how well they applied themselves to the task of mastering Brighton’s strong-arm tactics and taking them apart. There was also the assurance that the three-week break enforced by the flu epidemic has not impaired the team’s fighting spirit, for in addition to the four top-quality goals, there were a lot of credit marks for individual performances.
The record shows that this was Brighton’s tenth successive defeat, while Sunderland had won only one of their previous 11 games.
Strictly by the book, there should not have been a great deal between them but the gulf demonstrated so convincingly supports the claim that Sunderland are indeed out of place in the lower reaches of the Second Division.
Five points out of the last six is a help trend and while Mr Stokoe warns that no one should be carried away by the terms of Saturday’s success, he found grounds for satisfaction in this spirited return to duty.
The game showed too, that he has added a very capable defender to the staff in David Young, who settled in well to show cool command in a defence which has not always been too well served in this respect.
It was perhaps significant that Horswill and Bolton should turn in personal best performances, while Watson, always dominant in defence, has great scope for developing his aggressive qualities.
With Malone ready to surge forward at every opportunity, Sunderland’s attacking football was given its impetus from deep defensive positions. This was maintained throughout the side and enabled Hughes and Tueart to take leading roles in bringing endless pressure to bear on the Brighton defence.
Porterfield worked hard and effectively to keep the ball moving usefully out of midfield, where command was ensured by the strength and confidence of Horswill. There was quality too, in the generalship of Kerr, whose capacity for work never ceases to astonish the onlooker.
Lathan, replaced by McGiven in the 66th minute, absorbed a lot of punishment in keeping up a running challenge and though he did not carry the same menace as Hughes and Tueart in front of goal, there was still value in his contribution.
Beyond one sharp call to take a close range header following a right wing corner in the second half, Montgomery had a comparatively quiet time of it.
The promise that Sunderland would find victory well within their reach showed in the early stages, when they surged forward confidently. Two off-target headers by Watson warned Brighton of what to expect before Sunderland took the lead in the ninth minute.
Tueart and Porterfield linked on the left before the ball was moved to the angle of the penalty area, from where Bolton hammered in a left foot shot which struck goalkeeper Dovey in the face and bowled him over. Hughes pounced on the rebound to drive home a low shot.
Watson, Hughes and Tueart all took a hand in the shooting without being able to cash in from good position and an indirect free-kick when Kerr was brought down inside the penalty area set up a chance for Malone, whose powerful shot struck a defender and was cleared.
Horswill set up another chance for Tueart to test Dovey and then in the 45th minute Sunderland finally managed to claim the second goal which had been on its way for a long time.
Hughes collected a pass from Lathan and raced through the middle as Tueart moved just wide of him on the left. Timing his pass perfectly, Hughes edged the ball into line for Tueart to stride in and drive it home.
Brighton found the going tougher still in the second half, with Sunderland moving the ball freely to win a lot of space. Watson and Tueart were both off target with shots and then the Brighton goal had an incredible escape when the ball was scrambled away from the line with Hughes, Lathan and Tueart all on hand.
It was only a brief respite for Brighton, however, for in the 58th minute Sunderland were back again for their third goal. A free-kick against Ley for pushing Tueart was taken by Kerr, whose well-placed drive to the near post was brilliantly headed into gaol by Hughes.
A first-half flare up between Tueart and Ley, in which both players had been at fault, reached its climax in 66 minutes, when the Brighton full back brought Tueart down as he was bursting clear on the left. The referee had no option but to book Ley.
Hughes was only inches short of a McGiven cross which offered him the chance to complete his “hat-trick.”
Then with eight minutes to go, Kerr led a break on the left before turning the ball to Tueart. Cutting inside, Tueart pushed the ball square just outside the penalty area for Bolton to storm up and hit the goal of the game – a right-food drive, of such power that Dovey had no chance.
The last kick of the game fell to Hughes, who suffered one further disappointment in his quest for a “hat-trick” when his drive clipped the bar on its passage behind.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on January 8 1973.