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Ha’way Back When: Bobby dazzler as slick Sunderland blunt Blades

Shaun Elliott enjoys scoring against Sheffield United in 1978
Shaun Elliott enjoys scoring against Sheffield United in 1978
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Sunderland 5 Sheffield United 1 – January 21, 1978

Bobby Kerr proved his worth by inspiring Sunderland to a tremendous five-goal super show which left Sheffield United reeling.

The diminutive Scot produced an excellent all-round performance, capped by the opening goal in a 5-1 rout of the Blades which took Sunderland up to eighth place in Division Two.

Shaun Elliott rises to head home against the Blades

Shaun Elliott rises to head home against the Blades

Ironically, though, Kerr was on the transfer list – at his own request.

Argus called for club and player to find a solution to the impasse, writing in the Echo: “The grounds on which Kerr decided that he wanted to continue his football career elsewhere have never been disclosed, but the club would be falling in line with popular demand now if they worked on the possibility of persuading him to change his mind.”

Deputy manager Dave Merrington hailed Kerr’s man-of-the-match display, and insisted: “There is no way that Bobby will be allowed to leave us while he plays this kind of football.”

Sunderland, with Tim Gilbert and Mick Henderson outstanding at full-back, made it nine points from six games, and the margin of victory could have been much bigger but for a series of outstanding saves from Blades keeper Jim Brown.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Sunderland deserved to be more than one goal up at half-time, but they had to settle for only Kerr’s opening strike on 34 minutes.

Kerr’s infectious enthusiasm drove on the hosts, and he fired in a right-foot opener when Mel Holden came under pressure as he tried to control Jeff Clarke’s flick.

The goal rush deservedly arrived on the restart, with Gary Rowell, praised for his “elegant control and movement”, doubling the lead from a 54th-minute penalty.

Holden was fouled by Bobby Campbell, and Rowell sent Brown the wrong way from the spot.

It was 3-0 three minutes later. Gilbert’s free-kick from deep on the left was headed on by Bob Lee and turned wide of Brown by the alert Wilf Rostron.

The Blades were rocking, and they suffered again on 64 minutes as Sunderland added a fourth. Kerr won a corner on the right and, from Rostron’s flag-kick, Shaun Elliott, up from the back, found time and space in the box to run on to head home.

Rowell struck for 5-0 with 20 minutes to go, with the goal of the game.

Gilbert fed Rostron, who set up Rowell, but the striker’s control, neat turn and delicate finish put the stamp of quality on the move.

United grabbed a last-gasp consolation, Campbell pouncing for a tap-in after Barry Siddall failed to hold Alan Woodward’s fierce shot.

Sunderland: Siddall, Henderson, Gilbert, Kerr, Clarke, Ashurst, Rostron, Elliott, Holden, Lee, Rowell: Sub: Brown.

Sheffield United: Brown, Keeley, Calvert, Speight, Franks, Flynn, Woodward, Campbell, Stainrod, Hameson, Longhorn. Sub: Hamilton.

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