Waddle's party spoilt by Lyttle

Sunderland 1 Ball 61 Nottingham Forest 1 Lyttle 86 Attendance: 22,120
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The Independent Online
The "coming home" at Roker Park yesterday was not quite the same as the one up the road on Tyneside at the start of the season. When Alan Shearer returned to the club he supported as a boy it was as a pounds 15m prize, and as a 26-year-old too. Chris Waddle came back to Sunderland for precisely pounds 14,925,000 less, and as a 36-year-old now past his prime. The Fulwell End fans, among whom he stood as a teenager, worshipping Vic Halom and Billy Hughes, were nevertheless grateful for the veteran new boy's decisive presence on the other side of the Roker fences.

It was in front of the Premiership's last surviving terrace that Waddle swung his left foot and dispatched the inviting left-wing corner that Kevin Ball swept past Mark Crossley on the volley a minute past the hour- mark. Waddle, who in his days as a sausage seasoner was rejected after a one-match trial in Sunderland's reserves, savoured his first celebration in a red and white shirt. His and Sunderland's post-match party was unceremoniously pooped, though, when the home defence made a hash of attempting to clear a Stuart Pearce free-kick four minutes from time. Des Lyttle lashed in an equaliser that prevents Sunderland taking a six-point cushion on Forest into their final six games. "The important thing is that they didn't get that gap," Dave Bassett, Forest's relieved general manager, maintained.

Given Sunderland's Achilles heel, Peter Reid's priority remains the kind of acquisition Bassett and Pearce have made with their pounds 4.5m investment in Pierre van Hooijdonk. The giant Dutchman failed to score yesterday, Lionel Perez thwarting his best effort with a brilliant tip-over save 15 minutes from time, but he provided a focal point to Forest's play and may yet end the season as his new club's leading scorer. Kevin Campbell leads the field with six, half of which were claimed on the opening day at Coventry, and the fact that Ball has now joined Craig Russell as Sunderland's joint-top marksmen - with four - highlights Reid's urgent need of someone who can score.

With Niall Quinn still on the comeback trail and attempts to sign another Maine man, Uwe Rosler, thus far resisted, midfielder Alex Rae was pressed into emergency striking service alongside the coltish Michael Bridges yesterday. Waddle started wide on the left and, with Lyttle and David Phillips in close attendance whenever the ball was worked in his general direction, Sunderland's few attacking forays stemmed from alternative sources.

Bridges could hardly have come closer than he did when Gareth Hall found him on the right edge of the area in the 11th minute. He caught Crossley off his line with his first-time shot but caught the crossbar too.

Thereafter, the Sunderland fans were more concerned with developments at the other end, where the Forest midfielders were forging promising links with the towering Van Hooijdonk and the beavering Dean Saunders. The 6ft 5in Van Hooijdonk made good use of his height advantage. Had Perez not denied him in the 75th minute Sunderland would have been lamenting more than the loss of two points.

The presence of Carlton Palmer in the players' bar afterwards suggests there will be more recruits to the Roker ranks before their next match - Waddle's return to St James' Park for the Tyne-Wear derby on 5 April.

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