THERE could be no doubting that Stoke City, keen to defend the first major trophy they have ever won, were entitled to make progress against Sunderland in the Football League Cup (second round) at the Victoria Ground last night. The winning margin was better than their play warranted, for they had struggled for over an hour to add to an eighth minute goal and were allowed to break for the 72nd minute goal at a time when Sunderland were attacking with greater promise and spirit than they had done at any other stage of the game.
The last minute goal headed by World Cup hero Geoff Hurst was a little unkind because it promoted the scoreline beyond their merit. Yet, having said that, it must be said that the City side, well stocked with maturity and individual skill, were well worthy of their win and most of all it was Montgomery and Horswill who kept them waiting before they could be sure that they were going to pull it off.
With this pair in peak form and Watson winning nearly every ball in the air there seemed the basis for a Sunderland fight-back during the 64 minute spell between City’s first and second goals.
This was supported by the excellent football which Sunderland played from midfield through Kerr, Porterfield and McGiven, with Malone always ready to break, but there was little promise of penetration at the front. Indeed Banks in the Stoke goal was not seriously tested at any stage of the game.
Sunderland should have had a chance of a crack at the England goalkeeper in the 55th minute when there was a confident appeal for a penalty for handling inside the area after a Kerr cross had been headed down, but the referee took no action.
McGiven, Tueart and Lathan were unlucky with bad breaks of the ball when half-chances presented themselves and off-target shots were hit by Porterfield and Tueart with the right sort of power. But this was a mild array of attacking incidents compared with the pressure which was applied at the other end by highly skilled performers.
Apart from the excellent cover provided by Horswill and the challenging play of McGiven, defensive marking was not of a high standard with Pitt having another indecisive game and Coleman more impressive going forward.
It was a losing battle fought with a great deal of spirit, but little hope because in attack there was not enough close support for Watson with too much goal-watching instead of anticipation by the men around him and in defence City were frustrated more by their own errors than by any show of tight marking demanded for occasion other than by the tireless challenge of Horswill.
City’s eighth minute break for their first goal started in midfield when Porterfield lost possession to Greenhoff, who promptly swung an accurate pass out to Conroy. After a sharp burst the winger moved the ball inside again to Greenhoff, who found space for a powerful shot from inside the angle of the penalty area. Montgomery managed to get a hand to the ball, but it still travelled into the net just inside the far post.
City gained their first corner kick in 70 minutes, but had to break up a Kerr-McGiven one-two and a Tueart effort which was got just short of the line before their build-up to an impressive spell of pressure.
Montgomery made a fine save from Robertson and both Greenhoff and Hurst shot over from good positions. Then Greenhoff headed down a Pejic free-kick and Ritchie shot over from four yards.
Sunderland picked up a little at this stage with Lathan just failing to reach a Porterfield centre, but headers by Lathan and Watson were simple pick-up jobs for Banks. Just before the break, Hurst headed over from a Greenhoff cross.
There was promise without achievement in two bold efforts by Malone and Watson and the build up from midfield was well maintained after Hughes had replaced Lathan in the 53rd minute.
Pitt handled in midfield and from Lees’s kick Greenhoff sent in a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area which sent Montgomery diving across his goal to make the save of the night.
But City’s second goal was not far away. It came in the 71st minute when Skeels took a throw within 15 yards of the corner flag on the left and Conroy, watched by Kerr, moved in to make his centre which was sliced into goal off the inside of the far post by Greenhoff.
Montgomery was in action again diving to save from Robertson after Pitt had slipped to give Greenhoff a free ride through the middle. But he had not a chance when a Ritchie header crashed against the bar and came back into play.
In the last minute, Conroy gained advantage over Malone in a long run on the left and from his centre Hurst at the near post gave the ball the neatest flick with his head to beat Montgomery for the third goal.
Stoke City: Banks, Marsh, Pejic, Lees, Stevenson, Jump. Robertson, Greenhoff, Ritchie, Hurst, Conroy.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Malone, Coleman, Horswill, Pitt, Porterfield, McGiven, Kerr, Watson, Lathan (Hughes), Tueart.
Referee: Mr G Hartley of Wakefield.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on September 7 1972.