THERE was a shock for Sunderland supporters when it was announced that Dave Watson would not be leading the Sunderland attack for their opening game of the season in the “derby” against Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park this afternoon. Presumably there had been too much optimism about the rate of recovery from the ankle injury which he received at Berwick a fortnight ago.
John Lathan who had been named as substitute stepped into the breach and John Tones, who had been named as travelling reserve, was promoted to substitute.
With John Hickton already ruled out through a pre-match suspension, this meant that both teams went into this important game without the services of their leading strikers.
Sunderland won the toss and when Middlesbrough tried to break from mid-field, McGiven was pulled up for a foul of McMordie.
Then Hamilton had Sunderland moving after winning the ball against two defenders, but when he moved it out to Tueart, the winger was promptly chopped down by Spraggon.
Middlesbrough recorded the first shot at goal when Charlton, wide on the left, sent in a fierce drive which Montgomery palmed away from under the bar.
Middlesbrough were up again when Horswill conceded a free-kick on the right, and when McMordie sent this low into the middle, Smith forced it wide.
There was a lot of eager running in both sides and the 35,000 crowd was well entertained.
Montgomery raced out to gather a long throw by Vincent, and after McMordie had pushed forward from the throw-in which followed Montgomery’s clearance, Sunderland built up their first real attack.
It started when Malone won possession from McMordie’s cross and his long ball down the right was collected by Tueart.
After beating Spraggon, Tueart hammered the ball into the middle, where Hamilton won in the air to place a strong header just inside the post and Platt was fully stretched to palm it away.
Vincent led a strong break from mid-field which ended with Montgomery driving to the near post to gather a low centre by Charlton.
Montgomery handled several high crosses confidently under pressure. One one occasion he won the ball convincingly enough against a challenge from Smith, but he still was given the benefit of a free kick for a foul challenge
Then in the 21st minute Sunderland went ahead with a goal which was a due reward for persistence and determination. Tueart sent the ball into the middle, where Porterfield gained possession and tried to break through the inside right position. He lost control of the of the ball, however, and when it ran loose McGiven sent up to hit a powerful shot which was blocked just short of the line and Lathan was on the rebound in a flash to hammer into goal.
Sunderland were back again shortly afterwards, with Tueart working a one-two with Porterfield before being clear on the left.
When he made his centre, Hamilton was in an offside position but the referee allowed play to proceed because he was not interfering with play
Kerr held the ball against two challenges but when he tired to send Hamilton in from the left, the centre forward was offside.
Next came a close call for Sunderland when a back pass sent McMordie and Charlton moving in to an open goal. McMordie appeared to make the shot which was brilliantly turned aside by Montgomery.
When Horswill accepted a favourable break to storm through the middle, he was stretched off the ball by Smith to gain a free-kick eight yards outside the penalty area. Kerr took the kick and Pitt’s header was confidently collected by Platt.
Hamilton was back to lend a hand in defence when Vincent crossed the ball dangerously, and then in the 33rd minute McGiven was booked for throwing the ball away after a free-kick had been awarded against him.
Two minutes later Middlesbrough were on level terms when a free-kick by McMordie was returned to the middle, when Smith accepted a split-second chance to get in a shot which Montgomery could only turn into goal.
In the next Middlesbrough attack which they pressed home with great determination, first Mills and then Montgomery were injured and while they received attention the referee booked Boam for his foul on Montgomery.
A good run by McGiven opened up the Middlesbrough defence, but Lathan was beaten by a deflection and Platt, diving out, could not prevent the corner.
Several wild clearances by the Middlesbrough defence was a token of the pressure being applied and in the next Sunderland attack it took a desperate late tackle by Spraggon to prevent Tueart from going clear.
Kerr took the free-kick, moving the ball square for Tueart to hit a fierce drive just wide of goal.
Kerr created a chance for himself when going up behind Boam to meet a through ball and heading on towards goal. Unfortunately there was too much pace in his header and Platt beat him to the ball.
Stiles was lectured for a foul on Tueart and from the free-kick Sunderland built up the first of several attacking which they penetrated well but were unable to force the final break.
Charlton had Sunderland on the run with a fine break in the left an the moving end with Montgomery diving to the foot of a post.
Charlton led Middlesbrough into their next attack, creating space brilliantly for Craggs, whose cross was headed within easy reach of Montgomery by Mills.
Tueart took a leading part in a series of attacks on the left, where he was joined by Bolton and then Lathan.
The best shooting chance was created for Tueart from a through ball by Lathan, but when the winger went on the outside of Craggs he pitched the ball too far forward and it was over the line for a goal-kick before he could reach it again.
Middlesbrough now began to attack with greater determination and they had Sunderland in tight defensive situations for a long spell. Eventually the pressure was relieved but when Middlesbrough came back again in the 65th minute it was to take the lead.
Stiles beat Bolton cleverly at the start on the move and McMordie joined in to send an excellent pass though for Smith who was wide on the right. The centre forward came in along the line and what appeared to be intended as a centre passed between Montgomery and the post to finish in the net.
Middlesbrough thrived on this goal and great accuracy in their movement of the ball enabled them to stay on top for a spell.
Horswill had to give away a corner when Vincent looked dangerous and from Charlton’s kick, Montgomery had to gather a McMordie header.
Hamilton just failed to reach a cross by Tueart when the Sunderland attack finally managed to snap into action again and from another Tueart centre shortly afterwards Craggs dived in to head behind with Lathan challenging.
But it was no take-over, for Middlesbrough were playing the much more convincing football, particularly in attack.
Six minutes from the end Tones came into the game as substitute for Hamilton.
In the next minute Middlesbrough sent on Moody for Craggs.
Montgomery had to take a first-time kick into touch when Moody moved in dangerously from the right and then Middlesbrough hit back again to force a corner on the right.
Then came a Porterfield break from a Kerr pass and his centre was headed narrowly wide by Tones. Tones went close again shortly afterwards with a shot which was deflected, and had Platt diving along his line to save.
Middlesbrough: 1 Platt, 2 Craggs, 3 Spraggon, 4 Stiles, 5 Boam, 6 Maddren, 7 McMordie, 8 Mills, 9 Smith, 10 Charlton, 11 Vincent. Sub: Moody.
Sunderland: 1 Montgomery, 2 Malone, 3 Bolton, 4 Horswill, 5 Pitt, 6 Porterfield, 7 McGiven, 8 Kerr, 9 Lathan, 10 Hamilton, 11 Tueart. Sub: Tones.
Referee: Mr K H Burns of Stourbridge.
How The Goals Came
Lathan 21 min.
Smith 35 min.
Smith 65 min.
HONOURS in this first “derby” clash of the season went deservedly to Middlesbrough. The illusion that Sunderland could build victory on an early goal disappeared when their defence ran into trouble against a hard running attack.
Sunderland’s attack which had promised so much in the early stages, had little to offer later on, though the fault here could well have been the scale on which command was surrendered in midfield.
Porterfield, bright in patches, faded in the second half and McGiven, too, lost the zip which had made him outstanding in the first half.
Tueart, Malone and hardworking Kerr were the players who had most to offer, but overall it was a disappointing performance and a result against when they could no complain.
Story taken from the Football Echo on August 12 1972.