Sunderland’s eager effort did not carry goal-scoring touch

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EAGER command for long spells was not enough to give Sunderland the success they pursued so keenly against Sheffield Wednesday at Roker Park on Saturday. It brought them half-chances by the dozen and a string of 16 corner kicks to mark the extent of their pressure on the Wednesday goal. They were going at Wednesday more strong at the finish than they had done at any other stage, but when Watson managed to head home a corner the whistle had already sounded to end the game.

Because of the quality and tenacity of their defence, Wednesday probably deserved their 1-1 draw. They had the edge where it mattered most in the centre of their defence, with Holsgrove emerging as their star performer through the degree of command he was able to impose upon Watson. Any slip up here would have allowed Sunderland to cash in on tigerish attacks which suffered a lot from undue haste after the hardest part of the job had ben done.

Wednesday held a considerable advantage in experience and maturity, but they were never able to take charge of the proceedings. There was the danger that they might have done when Craig was not picked up in midfield, for his skilled use of the ball was a constant threat. But the highly-effective work of teenage pair Horswill and Ashurst plugged most of the gaps.

It was an all-action game which provided plenty of excitement. The sense of frustration which followed when all-out attack does not claim the reward of goals, however, could not be avoided for a crowd which looked hopefully for a Sunderland win.

The conclusion must be that Sunderland should have won. By their own effort they had every chance and there was a lot to like about the spirit and skill with which they applied themselves to the task. But the pay-off punch did not materialise and they were left with a disappointing result to a game which was so often within their grasp.

Another disappointment from the onlooker’s point of view was the poor standard of control imposed by Mr I T Smith of Accrington. He persistently overruled his linesmen and his decision to book both Horswill and Malone became ludicrous when he failed to take any action over the worst-looking foul of the game by Rodrigues on Tueart.

Apart from the lively running of Joicey, Wednesday’s attack made little impact upon the game. The former North Shields and Coventry City striker produced their best effort of the first half, with a left-foot drive which just cleared the bar, though Montgomery must have been relieved that a well-hit drive from Rodrigues came within easy reach.

For their part, Sunderland had nothing better than an angled drive by McGiven which just cleared the far post. Predictably Tueart showed up best in reaching striking position but he was off-target with a couple of drives, sent a chipped shot narrowly wide, and just before half-time breasted down a Kerr cross and shot into the side-netting.

The goal-scoring action came in a three-minute burst at the start of the second half. Lathan won space with a bold challenge and burst, but instead of accepting the chance of a shot from ten yards tried to improve the position with a pass to Tueart. When Tueart’s shot was beaten down Lathan stepped in again, only to be tripped by Rodigues.

Wednesday disputed the penalty award, but were waved aside by the referee and Tueart stepped up to send Grummitt the wrong way before placing his drive into the other side of goal.

In just over a minute Wednesday were level. Horswill met a Clements cross but cleared the ball straight to the full back, who returned it towards the middle, where Joicey, turning smartly, whipped in a left-foot drive which Montgomery had no chance of reaching.

Joicey and then Sunley were halted by Ashurst and Horswill as they tried to get Wednesday back into the game as an attacking force and progressively Sunderland went over to the attack to force corner after corner.

McGiven and Watson both went close and when Lathan, whose brave challenge had played an important part in keeping the attack in action, was replaced by Hughes the pace of Sunderland’s assault mounted still further.

Hughes had a shot saved at the foot of a post by Grummitt and then set up an attack which had Tueart breaking on the left. The winger’s centre reached Kerr five yards out, but his shot struck Grummitt and a good chance disappeared.

Twelve minutes from the end, Joicey went off with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Henderson, but there was no change in the game’s pattern.

In the last few minutes Hughes brought a diving save from Grummitt, then had a drive deflected away from goal by a defender, and the last chance disappeared when Porterfield sent a powerful header over the bar.

The top performances for Sunderland were provided by Malone, Horswill, Ashurt and Kerr.

Malone’s powerful running repeatedly swept the ball out of defence to set up attacks which bore the promise of goals. Twice he reached shooting position himself, but could not strike the ball cleanly enough to make his shots count.

The play of teenagers Horswill and Ashurst carried the assurance that experience will make them players of top quality and it was to their credit that their joint performance in this game subdued skilled opponents so effectively.

Kerr was as usual the non-stop craftsman in midfield, able to win the ball and use it well. McGiven was a ball-winner, too, hitting his best form in the second half, while Porterfield showed up best in making the telling pass.

Montgomery gave an excellent account of himself without being unduly tested, and through Coleman did not have the best of games, he gave useful service when pushing forward.

Watson waged an endless battle against the tightest marking without being able to win a great deal of space, while Tueart won space well without being able to find the touches to finish off his good work.

Lathan and Hughes were both entitled to credit for the effort which they put into their work.

Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on September 18 1972.