Oh, where were those silky skills of expensive overseas players with unpronounceable names that apparently litter the league? All that were on show here were Dariusz Kubicki, Sunderland's long-standing Pole, and Mustafa Izzet - from Mile End.
So, for 57 minutes the defences of these newly promoted sides were too strong and too brutal for the attackers in a typically English blood-and- guts league game, peppered by bookings. In the 57th minute, however, Peter Reid sent on his record signing. Less than a tenth of the cost of that man up the road, Niall Quinn immediately redressed the balance in the attackers' favour. Within seconds of his arrival, he had the ball in the net, but Walsh lay in a heap in the goalmouth, the victim of a hefty shove which the referee had spotted.
The giant chest of the pounds 1.3m Irishman managed to control much of Sunderland's inaccurate passing and when the ball was too wayward, his lanky frame ensured none of Leicester's five defenders could make an effective clearance. Quinn's 70th-minute diving header forced Kasey Keller to make only the second save of his debut, and 10 minutes later a mystifying decision thwarted Quinn from presenting Stewart with an open goal.
In a frantic final 15 minutes, Sunderland launched the ball desperately towards the head of Quinn, their beacon of hope, but Leicester also had an opening. Emile Heskey accelerated from the half-way line, passed Richard Ord, only to hit Tony Coton's legs with his shot. "We did fine," said Leicester manager Martin O'Neill. "Even when Quinn came on, we coped with him."
"We're not bottom of the league like a lot of people thought we would be," added Keller. These sides have yet to have their first taste of real Premiership opposition, however.Reuse content