Sunderland 2 Chelsea 0 – February 13, 1985
Colin West scored his first home goals since September to take Sunderland to the brink of Wembley.
The 22-year-old Tynesider came up trumps with a brilliant double to sink Chelsea 2-0 on a memorable night at Roker Park in the first leg of the Milk Cup semi-final.
The Red and Whites produced an energetic performance, repeating the form which had seen Nottingham Forest, Tottenham and Watford beaten in earlier rounds, but the night was spoiled by violence before, during and after the match.
Scores of supporters were injured, including two Chelsea supporters in hospital with fractured skulls, and thousands of pounds worth of damage was done in the worst episode of football hooliganism in the town for many years.
In all, 96 arrests were made, two thirds of them from the south, with five policemen injured.
Chelsea’s fans, numbering 6,000, ripped up 200 seats and threw them at police and supporters in the Main Stand paddock.
Other fans struggled to find shelter under attack from missiles, including bottles. Away from the ground, there was trouble in the town centre, while a busload of visiting fans punched and kicked their way into the Blue Bell in Fulwell, hurling bottles, glasses and tables at terrified customers.
On the pitch, Sunderland manager Len Ashurst was well satisfied with a two-goal cushion to take to Stamford Bridge, though he warned: “Chelsea scored four goals against Sheffield Wednesday in the fifth round and we must be prepared mentally for the return.”
Chelsea boss John Hollins remained confident, despite the setback of defeat, coupled with bad injuries to defenders Joe McLaughlin and Colin Lee, plus bruised ribs sustained by Mickey Thomas.
He told the Echo: “We didn’t do badly for nine men and we are not out of it yet.
“Sunderland didn’t create a great deal and we are pretty good at comebacks.”
The Blues could have been ahead inside two minutes, with Kerry Dixon just inches away from connecting with a Thomas cross, following a good link-up with Paul Canoville down the left.
Chelsea could certainly have done without losing centre-back McLaughlin to a dislocated elbow in just the 12th minute, with youngster Dale Jasper forced into an earlier than expected appearance.
Jasper was to play a crucial role in the game, handling David Hodgson’s 27th-minute cross and allowing West the chance to hammer a powerful penalty out of the reach of Chelsea keeper Eddie Niedzwiecki.
Roker Park erupted, and ex-Chelsea star Clive Walker fired a tremendous effort just over the bar as the hysteria increased. The keeper denied Walker minutes later, as he looked to get on the end of Hodgson’s pass.
But Chelsea took control in the second half, with lively winger Pat Nevin impressing on the break.
The Londoners, though, were undone again by the hapless Jasper, who gave away a second spot-kick.
Barry Venison’s good throw was met well by West, but, as he tried to turn inside the box, he was brought down by Jasper.
Niedzwiecki made a good save to deny West, pushing the penalty against the post, but the alert striker ran in to prod home the rebound.
Confidence began to flow through Sunderland in the closing stages, but Chelsea avoided conceding a killer third, leaving the tie open for the return.
* Sunderland went on to clinch a Wembley place – three weeks later because of bad weather – though more troubled marred the stunning 3-2 victory at Stamford Bridge which sealed a 5-2 aggregate triumph.
Sunderland: Turner, Venison, Pickering, Bennett, Chisholm, Elliott, Hodgson, Berry, West, Daniel, Walker. Sub: Wallace
Chelsea: Niedzwiecki, Lee, Jones, Pates, McLaughlin (Jasper 13), Canoville, Nevin, Spackman, Dixon, Bumstead, Thomas