Ha’way Back When: Gary Rowell at the double to inspire Sunderland victory, but boss Alan Durban wasn’t happy

Gary Rowell converts a late penalty to put Sunderland 3-1 up against Manchester City in 1983. Pictures by Kevin Brady
Gary Rowell converts a late penalty to put Sunderland 3-1 up against Manchester City in 1983. Pictures by Kevin Brady
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Sunderland 3 Manchester City 2 – February 26, 1983

Sunderland had the edge on Manchester City in the clubs’ 100th league meeting, with Gary Rowell the two-goal home hero.

But angry boss Alan Durban hit out at his winners, criticising slack defending for both of the visitors’ goals.

Sunderland's Leighton James fires over a cross

Sunderland's Leighton James fires over a cross

“I sensed the danger last week of players attempting to do things beyond them,” rapped Durban to the Echo.

“Labourers get paid to labour – not to be artists.”

He blasted the players in the dressing room, even though victory lifted Sunderland six points clear of the drop zone, and avenged an FA Cup third round exit to City the previous month.

He said: “All I did was remind them what they are getting paid for in my team – and that is not for defenders to be drawing ripples of applause from the crowd.”

Ian Atkins fires in a shot for Sunderland against Manchester City in 1983

Ian Atkins fires in a shot for Sunderland against Manchester City in 1983

The three points continued an encouraging run of just one defeat in 10 Division One games, but the loss of two goals for the second successive match – after six games without conceding – clearly irked Durban.

He added: “The worst thing anyone at this club can do is for them to let it cross their minds that we are out of the woods.

“That would be crazy.

“Last year, at this stage, West Brom and Stoke City looked fairly comfortable, yet they only managed to stay up by the skin of their teeth.

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

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

“Other teams are picking up points regularly and with the standard generally higher than last year, we have got to make sure we keep picking up points.

“We have to aim for 47 or 48 points before we can start to feel safe (Sunderland reached 33 by beating City).

“To do that, we are going to have to get pride back into defending, as it upsets me the way we have been conceding goals again.

“I don’t like slagging players off, but the worst thing I could have them doing was to go home happy thinking everything was OK.”

A negative first half saw both teams struggle for cohesion and chances, but it all livened up after Sunderland’s 55th-minute opener.

A well-rehearsed free-kick paid off, with Barry Venison and Stan Cummins shaping to take the kick before Frank Worthington rolled the ball to Ian Atkins,, whose fierce drive deflected off defender Kevin Bond, leaving keeper Joe Corrigan helpless.

Nine minutes later, City’s Peter Bodak was sent off after whipping away the legs of Iain Munro, having chased the full-back after being obstructed.

From the free-kick, Sunderland doubled their lead.

Leighton James floated a delightful ball to the back post, where Worthington outjumped Tommy Caton to head back across goal for Rowell to nod home from close range.

City, though, finally showed signs of life, cutting the deficit on 68 minutes when Bond flicked on Asa Hartford’s corner for Caton to head past Chris Turner.

Nick Pickering and Worthington were denied by Corrigan before Rowell grabbed a crucial third goal on 85 minutes, sending the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot after being felled by Caton.

City pulled one back with two minutes to go, Kevin Reeves finding time and space in the box to lash home Dennis Tueart’s cross.

Then Tueart almost broke his former club’s hearts, volleying straight at Turner when City looked certain to snatch an undeserved point.

Sunderland: Turner, Nicholl, Munro, Atkins, Chisholm, Pickering, Venison, Rowell, Worthington, James, Cummins. Sub: McCoist

Manchester City: Corrigan, Ranson, McDonald, Bond, May, Caton, Tueart, Reeves, Baker, Hartford, Bodak. Sub: Hildersley.

Att: 15,144