Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sunderland - Stadium of Light

23rd September 2003

Sunderland 2-4 Huddersfield Town

Bored at a conference at Warwick University, I don’t think anyone noticed me sneaking off early to give me time to drive across the Pennines to Sunderland for this Carling Cup tie.  On the face of it, this looked a fairly straightforward outing for the home lads.  Sunderland having made an encouraging start to their Division One campaign (they would eventually reach the play-offs), facing visitors from two leagues below them.  But this Huddersfield side had also shown early promise in the league (they would reach their division play-offs), and had already eliminated a Division One club (Derby County) from this tournament.

The ground from Keir Hardie Way.

The Stadium of Light, not Lisbon.

The pit wheel reflecting the area's mining history, I assume.

Sunderland never really seemed to recover from going a goal down in the 2nd minute to a Tony CARRS free-kick.  Within 20 minutes they were two down, when Jon STEAD seemed to be allowed forever to set up a curling shot past home ‘keeper Michael Ingham, although 6 minutes later Kevin KYLE headed in a corner kick to reduce the deficit.

2-1 it remained at the break, but Huddersfield always looked the more likely outfit, and they duly extended their lead 10 minutes after the break in slightly confusing circumstances.  Some particularly weak home defending allowed Jon Worthington to burst into the box.  His shot was blocked by Ingham, but the ball spun up in the air to Andy Booth whose goal-bound header was handled on the line by defender Ben Clark.  

Whilst everyone else stopped, expecting a penalty to be awarded, Huddersfield’s Andy HOLDSWORTH didn’t hang about.  I thought at the time the ref should either give the penalty, and a red card to Clark or, had he played advantage, awarded the goal plus maybe a yellow.  And he did appear to be taking the latter course, when it was a yellow card clearly flashed at Clark, but then Clark left the field.  No penalty was awarded and the goal stood.  All very odd.      

That pretty much knocked the heart out of Sunderland, and they conceded a fourth in the 87th minute when BOOTH capitalised on slack play by Darren Williams.  There was still time for Kevin KYLE to make it 4-2, with a deftness of touch he had never before or since displayed in Scotland colours, but this was very clearly Huddersfield’s night.

Panorama of The Stadium of Light, Sunderland.

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