Stokoe seals top-flight return in '76.
Sunderland 2 Bolton Wanderers 1
April 19th 1976
Bob Stokoe’s Sunderland clinched promotion to the top flight with a 2-0 victory over nearest rivals Bolton Wanderers at Roker Park.
Having won the FA Cup three years earlier, promotion was harder to come by for Stokoe, but goals from Tony Towers and Pop Robson secured the victory for the hosts, who would go on to win the Championship.
Bolton’s team contained three players who would go on to join Sunderland in some capacity; Peter Reid, Sam Allardyce and Barry Siddall.
The Black Cats’ home form was the lynchpin of their success - 19 wins and two draws from their 21 league home games was an unrivalled record.
A home win would mean that the visitors couldn’t catch Sunderland in the promotion chase and Stokoe’s side went about their business in the workman-like fashion they had all season.
Bobby Kerr thought he had given Sunderland the lead on the half-hour, only for the referee to rule the goal out and give the hosts a penalty for a foul on Ray Train by Roy Greaves.
Fortunately for Sunderland, Towers stepped up calmly and converted his fourth spot-kick of the season.
The lead was doubled on the stroke of half-time as Robson, latched onto a Kerr centre and slotted past Siddall in the Bolton goal.
Allardyce scored late on for Bolton but Stokoe’s men held out to return to the top flight for the first time since 1970.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Malone, Bolton, Towers, Ashurst, Moncur, Kerr, Train, Holton, Robson, Greenwood (Hughes).