On this day, seventeen years ago, Sunderland squeezed past Ipswich Town in a game at the Stadium of Light that saw five goals, with Scottish striker Kevin Kyle netting the winner with just five minutes left on the clock.
With then-Newcastle boss Bobby Robson in attendance, John Oster inspired Sunderland to victory against a tough Ipswich side hoping to mount a promotion challenge themselves.
Gary Breen netted twice in the opening 45 minutes, but sadly for Sunderland, one of them flew past his own goalkeeper in the 36th minute to give the visitors the lead.
Jim Magilton’s cross fell to future Black Cats’ striker Darren Bent, and with his shot heading off target it flicked off the Republic of Ireland international defender and past Mart Poom in the Sunderland goal.
The lead didn’t last long, though, and Breen made amends with a header at the other end from a Julio Arca cross to bring the scores level just a minute before the half time break.
Sunderland carried that momentum on into the second period and took the lead pretty quickly, with Welsh wing wizard John Oster tapping the ball home to put us ahead.
Sunderland: Poom, Williams, McCartney, Breen, Arca, Oster, Whitley, Healy, Butler, Kyle, Stewart. Subs: Tommy Smith, Ingham, Proctor, Bjorklund, Leadbitter.
Ipswich: Davis, Wilnis, Santos, Naylor, Richards, Wright, Bart-Williams, Magilton, Counago, Kuqi, Bent. Subs: Price, Armstrong, Bowditch, Mahon, Nash.
Referee: Scott Mathieson (Cheshire).
You’d think the Lads would at least attempt to hold firm - particularly with a former defender, the notorious disciplinarian Mick McCarthy, in the home dugout - but we did a Sunderland and conceded just two minutes later. Richard Naylor sticking a free header away from a corner kick to score Ipswich’s second goal of the evening.
Sunderland toiled in a bid to restore their lead and almost came close when Gary Breen, aiming for his third goal of the night, saw an effort tipped around the post by Kelvin (yes, that one) Davis - Ipswich were clinging on for dear life, hoping to escape with a point in tow.
Their efforts were not good enough, though, and having dominated the second period we scored that all-important winning goal with just five minutes left on the clock.
Rushing to meet a pin-point John Oster cross into the Ipswich area was Kevin Kyle, heading the ball home to send the Sunderland fans in attendance that night home with smiles on their faces.
Oster’s performance delighted his manager, and after the game McCarthy was full of praise for the former Everton midfielder:
John’s been much maligned but he’s doing very well now.
I think it helps him if you encourage him and say ‘well done’.
He was also keen to praise the man who won him the game, Kevin Kyle:
Ipswich are as good as anyone we’ve played but Kylie was different class - and he could have had his neck broken out there!
But the man in the opposition dugout, Joe Royle, was less than impressed about what he had seen from the Sunderland centre forward:
The lad who scored their winner could have been sent off twice.
He made a lot of late tackles and had a lot of raised elbows.
Ah well. Dry your eyes, Joe!