Football: Shadows of a golden past

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

Sunderland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Grey 21

Wolves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Venus 42

Attendance 15,111

FROM the minute's silence in memory of the great Billy Wright onwards it was a day of reminiscence at Roker Park. Everybody above a certain age tried to recall what matches might have been like between the sides when Wright was in his pomp. Not much like this probably - a routine 1-1 draw - despite the memories pervading the sea mist.

The performance which Wolves proceeded to give by way of tribute was not of immediate vintage quality. Manager Graham Taylor promised that his side would attack but they were limited by their own inability to establish any midfield platform.

The only similarity between this team and that graced for so long by Wright was that both wore old gold. Sunderland too have seen better days - and in their case the prospect of them returning appears more distant.

It must have come as something of a surprise when they were given so much freedom by Wolves. It took Sunderland 22 minutes to score the opening goal through Phil Gray, but by then team and player could both have had three or four.

The Wolves midfield were hardly tenacious during this period and Gray's pace was frequently too much for Peter Shirtliff. Within the space of two minutes he volleyed over the bar from 30 yards, headed a corner past a post while in space and then managed to get goalside of the defence only to drill his left-foot shot wide.

There was nothing wrong with the goal when it came. Craig Russell's cross-field ball was met by a leaping Don Goodman who headed into Gray's path. He chested down and easily beat the advancing Mike Stowell. Other chances followed , most notably for Gray and namesake Michael. Wolves, doubtless encouraged still to be in it, won a corner three minutes from half-time which was cleared by Richard Ord. It went only as far as Mark Venus, who fired home a left-footed equaliser which his side barely deserved.

Sunderland seized the initiative once more in the second half, although Wolves had taken the opportunity to defend in greater numbers.

The best chance fell to John Goodman, who was clear on the left but waited in vain for the ball to drop to allow him to shoot and Darren Ferguson might have scored for Wolves midway through the second half.

That apart Wolves faded back to being ordinary. But Sunderland could not apply the finishing touch. Their final chance came when Stowell saved from Gray in the 80th minute, not for the first time.