Quinn scores moral victory

Sunderland 0 Leicester City

Scott Barnes
Sunday 18 August 1996 23:02

When Spencer Prior and Niall Quinn met on holiday in the sun of Marbella, they talked about how their respective clubs, Norwich and Manchester City, would progress in the lower league.

That they should meet in the sun of Sunderland on the opening day of the season in the Premiership might have been a surprise, but the game was most definitely First Division fare. It was honest English toil. Blood and guts were spilled, yellow cards were brandished, and both managers clutched at straws.

"It was five matches before we got a point last time we were in the Premier League, so we are now four games up," Leicester's Martin O'Neill said.

"My players worked hard in warm conditions," said Sunderland's Peter Reid. "I like the clean sheet because I like us to be solid."

The first booking of the game, in the fourth minute, set the tone. A painful ricochet off Kevin Ball's nether regions split the Leicester defence, only for Steve Walsh to have his name taken for causing the pursuing Paul Stewart to tumble tamely. The only player of Premier quality was Sunderland's record signing Quinn. "He's very awkward," said Prior, who was also making his debut after a pounds 600,000 transfer. "Everyone in the country knows his strengths and we were pleased to see him start on the bench."

Quinn's arrival on the hour changed the game. He "scored" with his first touch of the ball although his first touch of the game had immediately preceded it: a shove on Leicester's Steve Walsh. The goal was disallowed.

His next touch was equally effective, trapping a high ball on his chest before turning and tapping it deceptively to Stewart who, under pressure from Walsh, smuggled it wide. "Besides his physical presence, he can get the ball down and play football," confirmed Reid of the pounds 1.3m signing who arrived on Thursday, too late to get in the First XI.

Sunderland (4-4-2): Coton; Kubicki, Melville, Ord, Scott; Bracewell, Ball, Gray (Aiston, 57), Agnew (Bridges, 73); Stewart, Kelly (Quinn, 57). Substitutes not used: Preece (gk), Hall.

Leicester City (5-3-2): Keller; Grayson, Whitlow, Prior, Watts, Walsh; Izzet, Lennon, Taylor; Robins (Lawrence, 62), Heskey. Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Rolling, McMahon, Campbell.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

Attendance: 19,262.

Bookings: Sunderland: Scott, Ball, Stewart, Agnew. Leicester City: Walsh, Izzet, Lennon.

Man of the match: Quinn.

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