Football: Bright casts gloom over Sunderland

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday. . .1

Sunderland . . . . . . .0

THIS should have been the Mark Bright story for more than his scoring the winning goal in the last minute to put Wednesday into the last 16. He is unlikely to be as close to four goals again in one match.

Nine thousand Sunderland fans, who had boosted the gate to almost 34,000, had hung on in cold wind and intermittent rain cheering, convinced they had taken this tie back to Roker Park when, with less than a minute to go, Nigel Worthington came down the left in one of his characteristic forays.

His first attempt at a cross was blocked, his second was high into the wind and Tony Norman, backing away beyond his far post, got his gloves to the ball but failed to take the catch. It bounced away and Bright nodded it into an empty net.

Disappointed as Sunderland's fans were, the Owls deserved to go through because of the number of chances they created and for overcoming the loss of their central defender, Nigel Pearson, with a locked knee in the 36th minute.

Carlton Palmer, who had missed four matches with a hamstring, was his replacement but to expect him to shunt up and down, like a goods engine in a flat back four, is like expecting the Orient Express to stop at Scunthorpe.

Wednesday's superior individual skills were not evident until just before the interval when John Kay headed out and Norman saved two attempts by Bright. In the second half Ian Wright's former partner was rampant, he fired into Norman's body, then, within seven minutes, headed narrowly over and just past the angle.

We were approaching the classic Cup situation with Sunderland, under the cosh, primed to snatch a last-minute winner when Bright struck. Malcolm Crobsy, the Sunderland manager, said afterwards: 'Tony would have taken that ball nine times out of 10, but after that there was no time for us to get back.'

Wednesday's manager, Trevor Francis, described Norman as Sunderland's best player adding: 'We were the dominant team and played all the football but I'd be disappointed to lose like that.'

Sheffield Wednesday: Woods; Nilsson, Worthington, Harkes, Pearson (Palmer, 36), Shirtliff, Wilson, Waddle, Watson (Bart-Williams, 71), Bright, Sheridan.

Sunderland: Norman; Kay, Gray, Atkinson, Butcher, Ball, Cunnington, Davenport, Mooney (Owers, 69), Rush, Armstrong. Substitute not used: Bennett.

Referee: D Frampton (Poole).