Sunderland look for three points to potentially climb out of the Premier League drop zone tomorrow – though in-form Watford are sure to provide testing opposition.
The Black Cats, though, can take heart from a good home record against the Hornets, going back to the first ever meeting of the clubs, in the FA Cup in 1938.
Here, we look back at every Sunderland-Watford game to have been played on Wearside. There have only been 20 in league and cup, with 12 home wins, five draws and just three wins for the visitors.
1937/38: SAFC 1 Watford 0
Sunderland started their defence of the FA Cup with a narrow victory in the first ever meeting of the Rokermen and Watford, Len Duns bagging the only goal.
1970/71: SAFC 3 Watford 3
A week after starting the Second Division season with a 4-3 defeat at Bristol City, Sunderland were involved in another goal-fest in the first league clash with Watford. Tom Walley had Watford ahead early on, but Bobby Park and Billy Hughes turned it around for Sunderland. Ron Wigg levelled for Watford, but Bobby Kerr soon added a third for the hosts. The Hornets rescued a point when Walter Lees struck six minutes from time.
1971/72: SAFC 5 Watford 0
Sunderland’s penultimate home match of the Second Division season attracted a paltry 8,981 crowd to Roker Park, but the few were treated to a resounding win as Dave Watson’s double sandwiched efforts from Mick McGiven, Ian Porterfield and Richie Pitt, with the final four goals coming in the last 18 minutes.
1979/80: SAFC 5 Watford 0
The penultimate home match of the successful Second Division promotion campaign brought a stirring 5-0 rout. Pop Robson and Mick Buckley netted in the final 10 minutes of the first half, then Shaun Elliott grabbed a second-half double, with Robson also notching his second.
1982/83: SAFC 2 Watford 2
Sunderland, humiliated 8-0 by Graham Taylor’s newly-promoted Hornets at Vicarage Road earlier in the season, made partial amends in a 2-2 draw in the penultimate home match in Division One. Luther Blissett gave Watford a third-minute opener, sparking fears of another nightmare, but Ian Atkins and Leighton James turned it around by the 34th minute and only a late Blissett equaliser denied Sunderland all three points.
1983/84: SAFC 3 Watford 0
Sunderland deservedly condemned Watford to defeat to climb to 15th place in Division One, as Colin West, Mark Proctor and Gordon Chisholm all notched. Nigel Walker made his first-team debut, coming on for Leighton James for the final eight minutes.
1984/85: SAFC 1 Watford 1
Sunderland, newly through to the Milk Cup final, made it two draws in a row before the rot set in following the wembley loss to Norwich. Clive Walker, as so often that season, notched for Sunderland, in the 44th minute, but Luther Blissett cancelled that out 11 minutes from time.
1988/89: SAFC 1 Watford 1
Sunderland secured a point, for their fourth draw in a winless run of five in Division Two. Midfielder Tim Sherwood gave the visitors the breakthrough just before half-time, but penalty expert John MacPhail levelled on the hour mark.
1989/90: SAFC 4 Watford 0
Rampant Sunderland climbed to second place in Division Two on the back of a third win in the first five games. Gordon Armstrong’s sixth-minute opener set the tone, with prolific marksman Marco Gabbiadini plundering a 31-minute hat-trick to rock the Hornets.
1991/92: SAFC 3 Watford 1
In a game unusually brought forward to avoid a clash with the televised Rugby World Cup final, Sunderland finished good winners. John Byrne and Gordon Armstrong notched inside the first 21 minutes, and Byrne sealed victory with a third on 73 minutes before Sunderland-born midfielder Gary Porter fired a consolation. Craig Russell made his first-team debut as sub, replacing David Rush for the last 14 minutes.
1992/93: SAFC 1 Watford 2
Three days after a heartbreaking, last-gasp FA Cup exit at Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland endured more misery. Roger Willis (30) and Paul Furlong (48) had the Hornets well on top before Kevin Ball replied midway through the second half.
1993/94: SAFC 2 Watford 0
Sunderland rose to 14th place in Division Two after a third successive victory. Craig Russell was the two-goal hero, netting the 68th minute opener and adding a second seven minutes later.
1994/95: SAFC 1 Watford 3
Mick Buxton’s Rokermen dropped four places to 16th in Division Two after a morale-crushing 3-1 home loss. Sandy Hessenthaler needed only a minute to fire Watford in front, and Lee Nogan added a second by the break. Martin Smith threw Sunderland a 57th-minute lifeline, but Tommy Mooney’s penalty sealed their fate.
1995/96: SAFC 1 Watford 1
Two goals in the final 18 minutes produced a hard-fought draw in the clubs’ final league meeting at Roker Park. Left-back Martin Scott hit a 72nd-minute opener, but Jamie Moralee levelled seven minutes later.
1996/97: SAFC 1 Watford 0
Premier League side Sunderland knocked their First Division visitors out of the League Cup. Martin Scott’s sixth-minute effort settled a dour game, with Sunderland progressing 3-0 on aggregate, watched by just 10,659.
1998/99: SAFC 4 Watford 1
Peter Reid’s Red and Whites put Watford to the sword in style to climb into top spot in the First Division, despite falling behind to Allan Smart’s 11th-minute strike. Allan Johnston levelled, then Nicky Summerbee and Danny Dichio struck in the final four minutes of the first half. Andy Melville added the fourth on 63 minutes, thrilling a 36,587 crowd.
1999/2000: SAFC 2 Watford 0
Two of the promoted sides met in the first midweek of the season, with Sunderland impressing in a 2-0 victory, three days after being tortured 4-0 at Chelsea. The goals came late, though, Kevin Phillips sinking his old side, in front of the fixture’s biggest crowd (40,630) with a 62nd-minute penalty and a clincher three minutes from time. John Oster and Stefan Schwarz made their SAFC debuts.
2002/03: SAFC 0 Watford 1
Relegation-bound Sunderland, having battled past Bolton and Blackburn in four gruelling ties, exited the FA Cup at the fifth round stage, future Black Cats forward Tommy Smith pouncing for the only goal midway through the second half.
2003/04: SAFC 2 Watford 0
Two days after ending the miserable 17-match losing league run by winning at Preston, Sunderland made it two wins out of two as Marcus Stewart’s penalty and a rare goal from full-back Stephen Wright san the Hornets on August Bank Holiday Monday.
2004/05: SAFC 4 Watford 2
Sunderland, crowned champions at the end of the season, made it five games unbeaten in the Championship for boss Mick McCarthy. Marcus Stewart netted the first three goals, on 18, 33 (penalty) and 51 minutes, with Chris Brown adding a fourth before Bruce Dyer fired a late double in reply.