What a difference a week makes eh? Well, lets not get carried away, but there were signs of recovery to be hopeful for but we said that after the Stoke result didn’t we? Either way, it was a cracking result, thoroughly deserved following a resilient performance where the lads took hold of the game in the second half. Mignolet’s clean sheet was one of many plus points to be taken from the victory and whilst the Belgian had a relatively quiet afternoon when he was called upon he came through the test with flying colours. Whatever that means.
Simon’s highlight reel moment game just after Sessegnon had given SAFC the lead, superbly denying Darren Pratley a key equalising goal. Not only was it a superb save it was a turning point in the game which allowed the lads to keep plugging away and eventually put the game beyond doubt as the ever dangerous Nicklas Bendtner latched on to midfield maestro Sessegnon’s pass.
As always here on Roker Report we like to reminisce, back to the good old days and the not so good days, so following on from Mig’s game changing save we present to you beautiful people our Top Ten Saves/Heroics from a SAFC Keeper!
There's even a poll! Who doesn't like polls?
10. Jurgen Macho vs Liverpool
Jurgen had to get the nod in a list of goalkeeping heroics for that superb showing at Anfield in November of 2002. I'll always fondly remember the day because I had made the pilgrimage that afternoon and saw at first hand Macho's display of defiance. The Austrian's finest save from his unbeatable display was probably his touch past the post of a neat Michael Owen header from a Danny Murphy freekick. Although his save from Murphy himself following a fluid passage of play between Vladimir Smicer and Michael Owen was a close second.
9. Simon Mignolet vs Manchester City
On an afternoon when City squandered enough chances to win a handful of games and a late, late winner via Darren Bent’s penalty secured an unlikely three points for the homeside it would be easy to forget Mignolet’s lightning fast reflexes to push a volley from Emmanuel Adebayor from barely five yards out up and over the bar.
About two minutes into this compilation:
8. Darren Ward vs Southampton
When you think about World Class saves involving Pele you automatically conjure up those famous scenes from the 1970 World Cup and Gordon Banks’ unbelievable save from the Brazilian’s downwards header. However, don’t forget about our Darren! Then Southampton boss George Burley certainly drew comparisons:
"Darren Ward made three or four outstanding saves including one Gordon Banks-style – he managed to save it I don’t know"
As the Scot eluded to Ward made a number of saves that afternoon in 2006 to help Sunderland to a 1-1 draw as Southampton launched a flurry of attacks on the Sunderland goal. The save in question was fantastic, a real picture perfect moment with Ward at full stretch to push Pele’s effort up and onto the bar and to safety. Only a late deflected equaliser from Gareth Bale would beat Darren that afternoon and deny him a hard earned clean sheet.
7. Marton Fulop vs Bolton
In this cagey affair Sunderland managed to hold on for a significant point thanks to some fantastic work by the Hungarian international Fulop deep into injury time. In truth Marton had been a mere spectator for the majority of the game but sprung into action, quite literally, to acrobatically turn away a goalbound header from Gary Cahill. Even Mr. Boring Gary Megson could only admire the SAFC keepers efforts:
"I thought it was in. It was a magnificent save. I could not see him getting across and getting his fingertips to it"
6. Craig Gordon vs Bolton
There have been some superlatives thrown at Gordon’s stunning stop against Bolton last year, from "Save of the season", to "OMG!!!1! BESTEST SAVE EVER!!1!!" I’ll plump for the first. How Craig managed it I will never know. Despite postponements elsewhere across the country the Sunderland vs Bolton game in sub-zero temperatures last December went ahead and the lads were on course to come away with both hypothermia and the three points thanks to a solitary Danny Welbeck goal, until Zat Knight prodded a loose ball goalwards…
5. Tony Norman vs West Ham
Tony made some wonderful saves for Sunderland over the years but my personal favourite came as part of the 1992 FA Cup run. You could take your pick from his efforts in either the Fifth Round Replay against West Ham as Upton Park or the Sixth Round Replay against Chelsea at Roker Park, Norman was sensational in both games. I’m going to have to go for his save against The Hammers and let the big man himself paint the scene:
"We were under the cosh against the Hammers. I made a save from Tim Breaker that caught the eye because it was hurtling into the top corner but I managed to get across and claw it away with my right hand, the wrong one!"
4. Jimmy Montgomery vs Arsenal
Undoubtedly Jimmy is more famously remember for a certain other important save, however he may never have had the chance to etch his name into the history books had he not made another, equally as important stop, in the FA Cup Semi-Final of 1973 against Arsenal. Gunners winger George Armstrong let fly from the edge of the area only for his effort to ricochet via a deflection. The new trajectory the shot had found itself on was destined for the back of the net as Montgomery had already commited to the initial strike. However, Jimmy managed to adjust his body and somehow stick out a strong arm to deflect the ball around the post. A precursor of what was yet to come?
3. Lionel Perez vs Sheffield United
Ah, old Lionel. You have no idea how many times I have had to talk myself out of adding the flamboyant Frenchman into the Roker Report Cult Hero Hall of Fame and remembering his heroics in the 1998 playoff semi-finals has just made my job even harder next time around! Whilst a certain someone’s double-save exploits are certain to figure in such a list it would be cruel to forget this nutcases efforts in that crazy game. Never a one to make a routine save, which would eventually prove to be his downfall, Perez always favoured the spectacular. Why save this with my hands when I can wrap my size 9 boot around it from above my head. Things were certainly never boring with Lionel between the sticks.
2. Thomas Sorensen vs Newcastle
Tommy made a bit of a habit out of stopping the Magpies’ favourite son from the spot but it was his stunning stop from a last-gasp Shearer penalty in the Tyne/Wear derby of 2000 for which he will be most fondly remembered, on Wearside at least.
"These are the moments you cherish the most. It’s definitely the most important save of my career. It’s a great feeling knowing that I’ve contributed to a superb win."
1. Jimmy Montgomery vs Leeds
Never in question was it really? An iconic moment not only in SAFC or FA Cup history but in footballing history.
Monty had made a name for himself as a superb shotstopper during his Sunderland career but outdid himself that famous May afternoon in 1973. His initial save, flying across to his left to keep out a header from Cherry was staggering in itself but to then, somehow, miraculously tip a follow up from Lorimer onto the woodwork and away to safety.
Always worth another watch I'm sure you'll agree!
Vote for your favourite in the poll, or indeed leave your own memories in the comments.