Saturday 30 August 1969
Manchester United 1 (Best 57)
Sunderland 3 (Tueart 7, 87, Stuckey 45)
If Sunderland win the Division One title this season, and who am I to deny them that dream, it will be this match that will shine as a beacon to their success. It was a win full of maturity and purpose. It seemed as if Sunderland understood what was needed and their plan worked perfectly, without fuss or alarm. Ironically their victory came at Old Trafford, against a club that have won the European Cup and a Division One trophy recently. A team you would expect to win matches like these.
Make no mistake this win was extremely important and left Sunderland with 7 league wins out of 7. And United are no man slipping on a banana skin this season. Before this game they were outclassed in only the first half in their first game. Since then they have been dominant in all their games. No one would be surprised that Manchester Utd are in the top section of the league. The same couldn’t be said of Sunderland. Constantly close to relegation trouble since their promotion, this season has been a total surprise.
Sunderland began their dismantling of United very early. Their passing was precise and quick which left the home side bemused at times. The visitors won a free kick just outside the home penalty box in the 6th minute. Tueart proved up to the task and Sunderland led 1-0.
The Sunderland midfield took control of the game after that, generating a handful of chances that Sunderland didn’t take advantage of. United looked frustrated, and Best especially as his supply dried up to nothing. On the stroke of half time Todd sent a speculative long ball forward. Isolated, it looked wasteful and a terrible way for an engrossing half to finish on. Yet no one estimated on Stuckey’s sprint to a lost cause, chasing down the ball and shooting truly to double Sunderland’s lead. A truly deserved lead at half time.
The second half Manchester United showed some early promise, prodding and poking at the Sunderland defence, looking for a small crack to sneak through. Yet the Sunderland team stood tall and defended well, clearing the ball into the stands many a time. They weren’t prepared to give United any small chance. On the hour United got themselves in with a sniff of a chance. Kidd , just outside the penalty box, spotted a crack and curled the ball into the box. And there popped Best, splitting the Sunderland defence, and nonchalantly glided the ball into the net. United crawled one back and surely Sunderland would now buckle in front of the screaming 50,000 spectators. This was something they are not used to.
Sunderland stood strong and actually started to gain ascendency in the game. They looked calm and assured and any advantage United might have had was lost. Sunderland had chances by Baker, Harris and Tueart, but all were lost. Not to worry, Sunderland continued playing their game.
With a few minutes to go, Tueart pounced on a Stepney mistake. The United keeper had control of the ball and about to send the ball forward for another last gasp chance. Yet, luck was not with him. He slipped and the ball trickled to Tueart. Tueart repayed Fortune with a goal and guaranteed the win for Sunderland; one that was fully deserved. It’s a very long season, and many obstacles will challenge Sunderland on the road to May, but they might have to team to do it.
Manchester United: Stepney, Fitzpatrick, Dunne, Crerand, Ure, Sadler, Morgan, Kidd, Charlton, Givens, Best
Sunderland: Montgomery, Harvey, Ashurst, McGiven, Pitt, Todd, Harris, Stuckey, Baker, Palmer (Symm), Tueart.