Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sunderland move towards fifth League title - a centenary special

Taken from IN SEARCH OF THE DOUBLE: Sunderland 1912/13 by Paul Days and Mark Metcalf


23rd April 1913

(Halse 60) Attendance 59,740
League Division One SUNDERLAND 1
(Tinsley 30)
Aston Villa: Anstey, Weston, Lyons, Barber, Harrop, Leach, Wallace, Halse, Hampton, Stephenson, Bache
Sunderland: Butler, Gladwin, Ness, Cuggy, Thomson, Low, Mordue, Buchan, Richardson, Tinsley, Martin

This match at Aston Lower ground was invested with considerable importance. If the league championship was not absolutely resting upon the outcome it was likely to be affected if Sunderland lost. The position was this. In order to make sure of the championship Sunderland required 3 points which would give then an unassailable lead of one point. Two would probably suffice to settle the business in Sunderland's favour on the less satisfying basis of goal average.

It is not surprising therefore that a big crowd turned up with some 70,000 enthusiasts seeking admission. Of these 2,000 were denied the pleasure of witnessing what proved to be a tremendous match and a glimpse of the English Cup which was carried round the ground. The league honours were not decided for Sunderland could only manage a draw which leaves them with one point to gain to secure the league title for the 5th time. Villas chances of the double were effectively quashed as were Sunderland's last week.

It was a fast and even game and Sunderland acquitted themselves in a much more satisfactory way than at Crystal Palace. For one thing there was more cohesion in their ranks and the side as a whole was better balanced. Villa stuck to their work with a will and there was no lack of exciting incidents. Both goals had narrow escapes and with a little luck either side could have won. The result was a very good indication of the play but what honours there were in sharing the points certainly rested with the home side.

They were without Lyons for part of the 2nd half and Harrop went to full back. Mordue and Buchan were in better form than at Crystal Palace and from their work many good chances were created for the other forwards. The strength of the sides lay in the halfback lines and here spoiling tactics were the order of the day. Villa were without Hardy who had damaged his knee in the Cup Final and Anstey made his 3rd appearance of the season whilst Tinsley displaced Holley.

From the outset the pace was remarkable and clearly showed that the players had recovered from their exertions at Crystal palace. Sunderland were particularly aggressive and Lyons had to dash across to clear a centre from Mordue. The first really dangerous attack came from Hampton who slipped right through in characteristic fashion and forced a corner. Wallace dropped in a beauty but Halse’s header just grazed the bar. Play never flagged and with Sunderland slightly superior they full deserved the goal that came there way after 30 minutes play.

Lyons made a poor attempt to clear and the ball glanced off his foot to Martin whose speed often troubled the Villa defence. He dodged round Lyons as the full back attempted to recover his ground and crossed to Tinsley who made no mistake with a strong shot that Anstey could not hope to stop. Weston and Lyons were frequently tested with Mordue in particular proving a very elusive character. When Villa got going usually through Bache it needed the very best of the Sunderland defence to keep them out.

Butler once rushed out to kick away a centre by Wallace as Hampton advanced but several promising openings were frittered away by ill timed shooting. Villa resumed without Lyons and later in the 2nd half Halse and Gladwin showed signs of wear and tear. There was not the same spirit in the 1st half and several fouls were committed. The defences were kept under high pressure and after 60 minutes Bache dashed down the wing and centred for Halse to head a lovely equaliser. Both Gladwin and Ness had been outpaced and outplayed by the move.

The struggle became keener and Buchan looked an almost certain scorer before Anstey courageously rushed out to the edge of the penalty area and scooped the ball out to Barber. Butler as if envious of the save did likewise when he dashed out as Hampton and Halse were getting past Ness. Towards the end Stephenson had a gilt edged chance when he had a clear run on goal but from 15 yards spooned the ball wide of the upright. (Newcastle Daily Chronicle) 

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