Football: Melville to rescue

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Sunderland 1

Melville 68

Sheffield Wednesday 1

Oakes 66

Attendance: 20,644

Sunderland, resolute in defence all season, have struggled to find the net at the other end with any consistency and it seemed as if their inability to convert chances into goals might cost them dear when Scott Oakes fired Wednesday into the lead after 66 minutes. But Andy Melville rescued the Rokerites with his first goal of the season to earn a share of the spoils.

The Welsh international defender struck just two minutes after Oakes, brought into the side for the suspended Regi Blinker, pounced to break the deadlock with a 25-yard low drive. Melville's equaliser was much less spectacular as he slammed the ball into the roof of the net from just inches away after a miskick by David Kelly.

Wednesday missed a chance to take the lead after only 10 seconds on their first league visit to Roker Park for 11 years. Benito Carbone released Andy Booth in the clear, only to be denied by the outstretched leg of keeper Lionel Perez. Sunderland hit back with skipper Kevin Ball rising unchallenged to a Martin Smith corner which he headed inches past the upright.

Perez made another fine save after Carbone again split the home defence, this time finding overlapping full-back Peter Atherton to centre to the far post where Booth's downward header was blocked at the post.

Smith hit a fierce drive straight at Pressman but the Wednesday keeper was well beaten in the 23rd minute when a thundering drive from Kelly struck the underside of the bar and the ball was scrambled clear.

Wednesday had another lucky escape in the 34th minute when Bridges confidently took on Jon Newsome and cut inside, only to see his left-foot drive hit the face of the post and rebound to safety.

The home side continued to attack in the second half and, after Paul Stewart had been pushed from behind by Des Walker, the free- kick rebounded to Bridges whose stunning overhead kick flashed over the bar. Four minutes later the home side were again guilty of missing a glorious chance when Alex Rae set up Paul Bracewell who shot wastefully wide.