Ha’way Back When: Gary Rowell at the double to nail Hammers

Sunderland's Bob Lee battles West Ham defender Tommy Taylor in 1978. Picture by Gilbert Johnston
Sunderland's Bob Lee battles West Ham defender Tommy Taylor in 1978. Picture by Gilbert Johnston
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Sunderland 2 West Ham Utd 1 – September 30, 1978

Mick Coady and Wilf Rostron won praise as stand-out stand-ins as Sunderland climbed to fifth place in the Second Division with victory over West Ham United.

Mick Coady and Wilf Rostron won praise as stand-out stand-ins as Sunderland climbed to fifth place in the Second Division with victory over West Ham United.

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

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

The suspension of regular full-backs Mick Henderson and Joe Bolton gave manager Jimmy Adamson a big headache for the Hammers’ visit to Roker Park.

But the pair – surprise choices by the manager – came up trumps to help ensure a hard-earned win, despite being the subject of derision from some supporters when the teams were announced to the crowd prior to kickoff.

Coady and Rostron responded in the best possible way, putting on tremendous, all-action performances to match the determined spirit of the rest of the Roker squad.

Manager Adamson, who was delighted with a good shift in midfield from forward Bob Lee, said: “Morale is sky high and we have players with a tremendous will to win.

I asked young Mick and Wilf to play out of position – and you know how some people feel about that sort of thing – and they agreed without a murmur.

“I was tremendously impressed with both of them and with the other young fellows, like Gordon Chisholm and Wayne Entwistle, who are getting a real taste of league football for the first time.”

Sunderland were well worth their 2-1 success. West Ham, though, made the Wearsiders work hard for the points, proving in the process their acknowledged status as the division’s most skilful team.

Sunderland started the better of the two sides, but they failed to ask any serious questions of veteran keeper Bobby Ferguson – before, that is, a controversial and hotly disputed penalty in the 27th minute.

Tommy Taylor and Pop Robson were both booked for dissent in complaining about the spot-kick, no surprise given that the referee and Clock Stand linesman disagreed on the reason for the award.

The linesman flagged for a handball offence by Billy Bonds when Gary Rowell crossed from the right, but the referee explained after the match that the penalty was given for a push by Paul Brush on Shaun Elliott before the ball even reached Rowell.

Rowell, despite a lengthy wait to take the kick and knowing the importance of it, showed no nerves as he despatched his shot wide of Ferguson’s right hand and inside the post.

Trevor Brooking ran the show for the Hammers as they tried to work their way back into the game, but the visitors found Jeff Clarke and Elliott in imposing form in central defence.

Goalkeeper Barry Siddall enjoyed a fine performance, notably denying Alan Curbishley when the midfielder’s 20-yard drive dipped and swerved, as he pushed the ball against the angle of bar and post.

David Cross levelled matters just before the hour, finishing comfortably after a fine Brooking cross to the back post.

But Sunderland regained the initiative.

Mick Docherty crossed for Lee to nod down in the box, but Alan Brown’s shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Ferguson.

The hosts, though, clinched victory with a second goal on 71 minutes, with Rowell the hero again.

Lee’s persistence kept alive an attack down Sunderland’s left and when he finally sent over a cross, Bonds could only head the ball out as far as Rowell, who chested it down and slammed home a fierce right-foot shot, just inside Ferguson’s left-hand post.

Adamson reflected: “While we did not close down on them and control the play the way I would have liked when we were in front, we certainly deserved the points.”

Sunderland: Siddall, Coady, Rostron, Docherty, Clarke, Elliott, Chisholm, Lee, Entwistle, Brown, Rowell. Sub: Greenwood.

West Ham: Ferguson, McDowell, Brush, Holland, Taylor, Bonds, Curbishley, Devonshire, Cross, Brooking, Robson. Sub: Jennings.

Att: 23,676.