Sunderland 3 Oldham Athletic 1 – October 29, 1977: Sunderland survived a big injury scare to make it a hat-trick of wins – as manager Jimmy Adamson started to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The Rokermen managed just one win in their first 10 games in Division Two following May’s heart-breaking relegation, but victory over Oldham Athletic was a third successive triumph, as Sunderland climbed into mid-table – just four points adrift of the third promotion spot.
Yet the Wearsiders had to overcome the temporary loss of goalkeeper Barry Siddall, who was stretchered off early in the first half when bravely challenging Oldham striker Alan Young, with Sunderland defender Shaun Elliott involved, too.
Siddall was motionless on the ground and was carried off Joe Bolton took over in goal, but sub Mel Holden remained on the sidelines as Adamson opted to wait to see if Siddall could recover from his injury.
Siddall – who had three stitches in a deep cut below his right knee – was back to great approval from the crowd nine minutes later, with his clean sheet intact, and Sunderland, back to 11 men, went on to dominate.
Gary Rowell was denied by keeper John Platt after a brilliantly-judged ball from Kevin Arnott, with full-back Mick Henderson – praised post-match for his best performance of the campaign – driving an effort wide before Sunderland made the breakthrough on 37 minutes.
Bobby Kerr sent over a dangerous, inswinging corner from the left and defender Shaun Elliott beat keeper Platt at the near post to glance home a header for his first goal of the season.
Platt denied Sunderland a second before the break, expertly keeping out a spectacular diving header from Arnott.
But two goals in five second-half minutes just before the hour mark sealed Sunderland’s triumph.
Roy Greenwood was hacked down just outside the penalty box, and though a set-piece shot looked on, the ball was played wide to Jackie Ashurst, whose right-foot strike on the run took the slightest of deflections off the Oldham wall on its way past Platt.
It was soon 3-0 as Bolton overlapped on the left and sent in a deep cross, which reached Bob Lee beyond the far post.
The striker pulled it down in a flash and his angled effort flew past Platt.
Argus hailed the display, though rueing the fact that Sunderland managed only three goals despite their dominance.
He wrote in the Echo: “It was a fine team effort which took Oldham apart and had them struggling to avoid a flood of goals.
If there was one flaw, it was that, on overall play, they should have had more than three goals to show for their efforts.”
Oldham responded with a 79thminute consolation, Steven Taylor heading past Bolton at the near post, from Alan Groves’ indirect free-kick.
Adamson was delighted with his side’s application, telling the Echo: “We look for two things every week – result and performance.
“We got both against Oldham and this makes me very happy.
The players are adjusting well to the Second Division now and three wins in a row must increase their confidence.”
Deputy manager Dave Merrington added: “The players gave a tremendous performance.
“As for whether they have turned the corner yet, I think the onus is on the players to prove it.
“I think they can.”
SUNDERLAND: Siddall, Henderson, Bolton, Kerr, Elliott, Ashurst, Rostron, Arnott, Greenwood, Lee, Rowell. Sub: Holden.
OLDHAM ATHLETIC: Platt, Wood, Blair, Bell, Hicks, Holt, Bernard, Taylor, Young, Chapman, Groves. Sub: Edwards.
Ref: A.G. Jenkins (Scunthorpe).
WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON?
* Newcastle United, bottom of Division One, drew 4-4 away to Everton. David Craig, Alan Gowling (2) and Tommy Cassidy scored the goals for the Mags.
* Middlesbrough were beaten 4-0 by table-toppers Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
* Hartlepool United lost 3-2 when they travelled to Barnsley in Division Four.
* Wearside League team Boldon Colliery’s luck ran out when they were beaten 3-2 by Bishop Auckland in the FA Cup. Ray Young gave Bishop the lead before Ron Tatum hit back with two goals.
However, Steve Hunter and Ken Hills goals secured a route through to the next round.
TV: The Man from Atlantis; New Faces; Lawrance of Arabia; The High Chaparral; Treasure Island; Play of the Month; Everyman; A Question of Faith; Just William; Police Women; Shoot.
MUSIC: No. 1 – Baccara (Yes Sir I Can Boogie); Others – La Belle Epoque (Black Is Black); David Soul (Silver Lady); Rod Stewart (You’re In My Heart); Abba (Name Of The Game); Status Quo (Rockin’ All Over The World); Ram Jam (Black Betty); Meco (Star Wars Theme); The Sex Pistols (Holiday In The Sun); The Stranglers (No More Heroes); The Emotions (Best Of My Love); Queen (We Are The Champions).
CINEMA: Michael Caine starred in The Eagle Has Landed; Showdown; A Touch of Class; Liza Minelli played the lead role in Cabaret; A Bridge Too Far; The Spy Who Love Me; Orca: Killer Whale; Futureworld.
NIGHTLIFE: Oxygen and Cadillac were on stage at Seaham Labour Club; Riverside Social Club had New Faces Winner, Peter Pan, on stage; Ricky Starr and Tracy Starr played at the Vaux Social Club; Doxford Park Social was the venue for The Debonaires and Martell.