On this day in 1995, Peter Reid’s team climbed up to third in the table after a good start to the season, with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
The three points were secured with a David Kelly strike past Nigel Martyn on 75 minutes, which secured victory against a Steve Coppell side that also included Chris Coleman, Ray Houghton and Dougie Freedman.
It was Kelly’s second goal in two games, the Republic of Ireland striker following up a goalscoring home debut against Reading the week before with the clincher against Palace after his big-money move from Wolves.
It could – and should – have been a far more impressive scoreline, however, with first Martin Scott and then Paul Bracewell missing from the spot. Scott’s early kick hitting the post, Bracewell putting his wide.
It left us with a record of scoring only one penalty in eight, and Peter Reid wasn’t happy.
“It’s a worry, and it’s now getting beyond a joke,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about getting our laundry woman to take them. I would think David Kelly would possibly take the next one, but this is something we shall work out in training this week.”
In a scrappy game – in which Richard Ord, Andy Melville and ball winner Kevin Ball won praise from Reid – it was left to Kelly to nab a suitably scrappy goal from a Gray cross.
However Kelly had been pencilled in to start the game in goal. In a remarkable scenario, Sunderland didn’t have a second choice goalkeeper and the squad had been hit by a stomach bug pre-match. Martin Smith managed to start before being forced off at half time, while Alec Chamberlain, fortunately, held on for the full game.
Unfortunately, Kelly didn’t get the opportunity to take the next penalty, with an injury suffered on international duty shortly after the Palace game ruling him out for the majority of the season. In fact, after notching two in his first three games for the club, he didn’t even score again – partly due to the fact he rarely started up front after that.
Our fortunes from the spot did pick up, however – Martin Scott taking responsibility for the next one we were awarded, ironically in the reverse fixture, at home to Palace, and securing a 1-0 win as we marched to the title on the back of Reidy’s kings.