Sunderland 2 Manchester United 0: January 28, 1981
Sunderland moved four points clear of the First Division drop zone – but a memorable victory over Manchester United came at a heavy cost.
Gordon Chisholm made the breakthrough for Ken Knighton’s men midway through the first half in a thrilling midweek encounter, and Gary Rowell converted a last-minute penalty clincher.
But the two points were marred by a fractured jaw sustained by hero keeper Chris Turner following a seventh-minute collision with United’s Mickey Thomas as he got on the end of Steve Coppell’s cross to send the ball goalwards, only for Steve Whitworth to clear off the line.
Incredibly, given the following morning’s revelation of the hair-line fracture, Turner played the full 90 minutes after lengthy treatment and boss Knighton told the Echo: “His face is in a terrible mess and is twice its normal size.
“He has a fractured cheekbone and also has problems with some of his teeth.
“I cannot speak too highly of Chris’s performance – he was absolutely magnificent under the circumstances and some of his saves were outstanding.”
Turner denied Gary Birtles (three times), Lou Macari and Joe Jordan, while Birtles, after getting around the keeper, had a weak effort cleared off the line by Joe Bolton and Thomas missed a sitter at 1-0.
Sunderland – in action for the first time in 18 days – went close through Ian Bowyer before going ahead in the 24th minute, when Bolton’s cross from the left was brought under control by Chisholm and the Scot turned superbly to despatch a crisp 18-yard strike beyond the reach of keeper Gary Bailey.
The home side, despite surviving a couple of scares, should have doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time when Jimmy Nicholl was adjudged to have handled a deep cross from Kevin Arnott, just as the ball headed out for a goal-kick.
But John Hawley endured his second spot-kick miss in less than a month, as Bailey got down to his right to smother the striker’s shot.
In the second half, Stan Cummins was narrowly wide with a free-kick, then Arnott rued an underhit shot from six yards, which Bailey easily dealt with, following excellent work from Cummins.
Thomas’s miss and a sparkling Turner save to defy Birtles kept the Rokermen on top, and victory was clinched in the 89th minute when Bolton charged through the middle and was felled by Bailey, just when he appeared to have lost control of the ball.
Rowell stepped up to convert the resulting penalty with aplomb.
Sunderland: Turner, Whitworth, Bolton, Hindmarch, Elliott, Rowell, Arnott, Bowyer, Hawley (Brown), Chisholm, Cummins
Manchester United: Bailey, Nicholl, Albiston, Duxbury, McQueen, Buchan, Coppell, Birtles, Jordan, Macari, Thomas. Sub: Wilkins
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