Game of the Day: SAFC 2 Man Utd 1

Published:
by Kate Morton

Goals from Gray and Mullin secure Roker victory.

8th March 1997

In the final season at Roker Park, Sunderland's highest crowd of the season saw the Black Cats take on Manchester United.

Hovering precariously above the relegation zone in 15th position, with games against Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool still to play, a good result was crucial for Peter Reid's men if they were to stave off the threat of relegation.

Sunderland were hoping to avenge the 5-0 defeat inflicted upon them at Old Trafford three months previously, in the match that included Eric Cantona's lob of Lionel Perez and iconic chest-puffed-out celebration.

Cantona featured for United in this game, alongside other Old Trafford heroes Peter Schmeichel and David Beckham.

With Niall Quinn, playing his first season at Sunderland, out through injury, John Mullin partnered an 18-year-old Michael Bridges up front.

Goalless at half time, it took until the 52nd minute for the deadlock to be broken, with Castletown-born Michael Gray opening the scoring in front of a packed Fulwell End.

Mullin added a second 25 minutes later to send the 22,000 strong Roker Park crowd into raptures.

An unlucky own goal from Andy Melville gave United hope of salvaging a point, but Sunderland held out for the final 10 minutes to secure a famous victory.

Despite wins over Middlesbrough and Everton in the final nine games, defeats from Chelsea, Liverpool, Southampton, and a final day loss to Wimbledon condemned Sunderland to relegation, meaning that the first season at the Lads' new home, the Stadium of Light, would be played in the first division.

Teams:

Sunderland: Perez, Kubicki, Melville, Ord, Hall, Kelly, Ball, Bracewell (Williams, 84), Gray, Mullin, Bridges (Russell, 74).

Subs not used: Preece, Howey, Erikson

Man Utd: Schmeichel, Neville, Irwin, May, Cantona, Beckham, Neville, McClair, Cruyff ( Cole, 57 ) , Poborsky ( Solskjaer, 57 ) , Johnsen.

Subs not used: Giggs, Van Der Gouw, Casper