Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 0 – April 5, 1980
Almost 40 years on, it remains a memorable Sunderland day – the Stan Cummins-inspired victory over Newcastle which proved to be the last derby success at Roker Park.
The hard-fought 1-0 win in front of a season’s best crowd of 41,752 proved pivotal in Sunderland’s rise into genuine promotion contention, while signalling the beginning of the end for the Magpies’ faltering challenge.
Ken Knighton’s men – beaten just twice in their previous 16 matches – suffered difficult times and were far from their best.
Indeed, Newcastle had the better of the first hour, but Sunderland grabbed both points thanks to Cummins’ 73rdminute intervention – the second of three successive 1-0 victories which helped propel the Rokermen to eventual promotion as runners-up.
Both sides took their time to find their rhythm in a frenzied Easter Saturday atmosphere, which brought five bookings, and the first real chance came just after the half hour, with Newcastle close to opening the scoring.
Steve Carney made progress in midfield and found Tommy Cassidy.
The Irishman weaved his way through two tackles and, from the edge of the box, tried to chip Chris Turner only to see his left-foot effort just clear the bar.
Sunderland responded when Gary Rowell played a one-two with Pop Robson before setting up Cummins, but the shot was charged down and merely trickled through to keeper Steve Hardwick.
The visitors were closer still on 41 minutes after a good move featuring Peter Withe and Cassidy ended with Alan Shoulder curling his shot past Turner and just wide of the far post.
Sunderland started the brighter in the second half and Hardwick was forced to make an outstanding save on 47 minutes, tipping over a Kevin Arnott freekick from just outside the box.
Jeff Clarke enjoyed an excellent game in central defence and he showed his confidence by surging forward impressively and playing a one-two with Steve Whitworth before crossing to the back post, where Carney was alert to head clear as Cummins looked to pounce.
The hosts almost went ahead on 61 minutes, with Stuart Boam desperately clearing off the line to keep out Alan Brown’s header, though the Magpies responded with Cassidy whistling an effort just wide, with Turner beaten.
Sunderland had a head of steam and, on 69 minutes, Cummins shrugged off a foul to get past two defenders and cross from the by-line.
Robson flicked it on first time, but the ball struck Hardwick and Terry Hibbitt cleared off the line.
The Wearsiders, though, finally made the breakthrough four minutes later.
Brown played a delightful ball through to Arnott, who cut in and centred.
Robson flicked on and Cummins had time to turn and pick his spot, firing home emphatically.
Brown gave Newcastle problems, ghosting past two defenders before chipping a cross in for Shaun Elliott, who was steaming in, but Hardwick got there first.
Newcastle had a couple of late flurries, but Sunderland held on to avenge their dismal New Year’s Day defeat on Tyneside.
Knighton, though, was not getting carried away – especially given the paucity of much of Sunderland’s play in the derby.
“There’ll be no celebrations from me,” he told the Echo’s Geoff Storey.
“Not until we have played 42 games and we are promoted.
“We have won nothing yet, but the lads are now starting to believe that they are a good side and the team spirit is tremendous.”
Sunderland: Turner, Whitworth, Hinnigan, Clarke, Hindmarch, Elliott, Arnott, Rowell, Brown, Robson, Cummins. Sub: Dunn
Newcastle: Hardwick, Carney, Davies, Cassidy, Boam, Barton, Shoulder, Cartwright (Walker 79), Withe, Hibbitt, Shinton
Ref: Ken Walmsley (Blackpool)