2nd January 1895 League Division One
SUNDERLAND 4 ASTON VILLA 4
(Gillespie25,??,Hannah,Millar 70) (Smith15,30,Reynolds(Pen),Devey)
Referee Mr Attendance 12,000
Sunderland:-- Doig, Meehan. McNeil, Dunlop, McCreadie, Johnstone, Gillespie, Millar, Campbell, Hannah(J),Scott.
Aston Villa:- Dunning, Spencer, Welford, Reynolds, Cowan, Russell, Athersmith, Chatt, Devey, Hodgetts, Smith.
This was the biggest game of the season at Newcastle Rd when current league champions Aston Villa came into town. They started badly and lost at home to Sunderland in September but since then they have gradually climbed the league ladder and are now in strong contention for the championship. Villa were confident of winning and at odds of 6 to 4 appeared a good bet. There was a great deal at stake for Sunderland who following Everton’s defeat a few days ago stood proudly at the top of the table.
Villa arrived on Tuesday and looked in the peak of condition. The weather was fine and much warmer than Tuesday although a strong NW wind was blowing. Meehan returned at right back for Sunderland and Johnstone moved to left half with Auld dropping out. The pitch was in pretty fair condition with a lot less snow on it and the crowd of around 12,000 was bigger than that of New Years Day. Sunderland won the toss, took advantage of the wind and Devey kicked off for Villa.
Sunderland were first to show and Gillespie raced away to send a hard shot just wide. Villa were very lively however and Cowan got in a shot that went a few yards wide. Sunderland came again and were pressing very strongly but Villa were not to be denied and came at Sunderland with terrific pace with Smith driving in a shot that Doig kicked away. The Sunderland defence was kept busy and Meehan was doing very well. A grand rush from Smith saw the Villa man strike the post with an absolute beauty as the visitors kept going with great dash.
Sunderland at last managed to mount an attack but Spencer cleared and then a free kick to the home side was gathered right under the bar by Dunning. Dunning saved again when the home forwards made another rush. Sunderland were having a bright spell and again and again the Villa custodian stopped shots which could easily have brought goals. When Hannah did beat him his hotshot struck the post and went wide. Villas forwards were playing well and a long raking pass by Athersmith found Smith who neatly popped the ball past Doig to put Villa ahead in the 15th minute
Sunderland retaliated but were soon driven back and Doig did well to save a cracking shot and keep Sunderland in the game. The home side were struggling to find their form but at last managed to work the ball into the Villa goalmouth where some neat passing set up Gillespie to shoot home the equaliser after 25 minutes. This made it a much better game and play became very exciting. Villa were playing very forcibly but they had to fall back when Hannah nipped in and fired a hard shot just wide. A spell of midfield play followed.
After 30 minutes play Smith broke away and dashed past Dunlop and Meehan to let fly from long range. Doig had begun to advance and was astounded as the ball sailed over his head and dipped into the net. It was a superb shot that was worth a goal. Villa continued to buzz around the home goal and Doig was kept busy as the ball was remained in the Sunderland half. In fact Doig was busier that he has been for many a long day at home and his left fist was constantly on the go.
In view of the pressure that Villa were applying a 3rd goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrived when Smith sent in a fine pass. Devey raced onto the ball and was promptly flattened by Johnstone inside the penalty area to bring Villa penalty kick. Reynolds hammered the ball against the underside of the bar and into the net to put Villa 3-1 up. Sunderland rallied after this and Campbell took a pass from Hannah to crack a shot against the crossbar. Amidst great excitement Sunderland pressed again.
The ball was swung into the Villa goalmouth and a fierce scrimmage took place in front of the posts. Dunning kept out one shot and when the ball was returned Hannah poked it into the net to reduce Sunderland's arrears to one. Villa were still a lively lot and were on the attack when the halftime whistle blew. Facing the wind in the 2nd half Sunderland started strongly and Gillespie was just off target with a good shot. Villa went straight to the other end and Doig saved well before sending the home forwards away again.
Sunderland were very poor in front of goal and their shooting left much to be desired. Russell took a Villa free kick and dropped the ball right in front of Doig but he managed to fist clear and Hannah went racing away over the centre line. Sunderland mounted a concerted attack and play remained in Villa territory for quite some time. The Villa goal was in constant danger but the visitors defended well and kept the home forwards at bay. Athersmith raided for Villa but Reynolds fouled McCreadie and Sunderland returned to the attack.
Hannah went close but Spencer got the ball away and then a free kick handed the initiative back to Sunderland. McNeill took it and found Millar who fired into the net from close range to equalise in the 70th minute. The ground erupted as hats and sticks flew into the air amidst immense excitement. Soon afterwards Russell fouled Campbell and from the free kick another scrimmage occurred in the Villa goalmouth. Players from both sides clustered around the ball and it fell to Gillespie who whipped it into the net to put Sunderland ahead for the first time.
Villa retaliated strongly and applied tremendous pressure on the home goal although the attacks did not have the same sting as their earlier onslaughts. Russell put a shot over the bar and then Devey got in a grand long shot that Doig collected comfortably. The ball was moving rapidly from end to end and in one spirited attack Sunderland had hard lines in not being awarded a penalty when Campbell was deliberately fouled. Villa were soon back on the attack and bombarding the Sunderland citadel with only grand defending preventing an equaliser.
As the game drew to a close the fast pace did not diminish and the excitement remained at fever pitch. Dunning made a magnificent save to keep out a long shot from McCreadie and then Villa swept the ball up the field. After a bit of neat passing Devey shot home an equaliser for Villa in the last couple of minutes and soon after a magnificent game ended in a draw. (Newc Dly Ldr)