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On This Day (13 March 1993): Landmark win brings blessed relief

Three late goals 29 years ago today gave Sunderland their 1500th league success, but they needed a helping hand from the visitors to earn it.

Three draws and a defeat meant that Terry Butcher’s side went into their home game against Peterborough United on this day in 1993 low in confidence. There was a jovial spirit around Roker Park in the build-up however, and after the club made efforts to raise funds for Comic Relief they were grateful to the Posh for turning up in a generous mood themselves.

Limited edition photographs of the players posing in iconic red noses were being sold in the club shop and four autographed ‘squashed tomato’ footballs were thrown into the crowd before kick-off.

Fans were also being encouraged to pay for a message to be put on the scoreboard or be read out over the public address system, with the £5 fee going straight to the appeal.

The Lads get in the mood. Image from the match day programme for today’s featured game

The match was Peterborough’s first-ever league trip to Wearside and they came bearing gifts. Sunderland dominated the game but just as it looked as if time was running out they were able to gratefully receive two healthy donations – first goalkeeper Ian Bennett fumbled a lofted John Kay cross to give Peter Davenport the simple task of prodding home, and with the visiting defence going AWOL in the final minutes it left room to put a gloss on things. A mistimed interception put Don Goodman through and he had time to pick out Shaun Cunnington, on as a substitute following his return from injury, who was all alone in the middle of the penalty area and able to control and side foot home.

In between those two goals Goodman had managed to get himself on the scoresheet too, with his strike coming on the back of a neat one-touch move that lead to Richard Ord’s pinpoint cross and a powerful header. It was his 21st league goal for the club on what was his 50th league appearance, but the bigger milestone was undoubtedly Sunderland enjoying their 1500th league win.

Don Goodman celebrates his goal. Image from the 1992-93 Derby County match day programme

Although the victory wasn’t seen as a major shock, the Rokerites had not exactly started the day as big favourites either. Lil Fuccillo’s Posh had been five points ahead of Sunderland beforehand and had won 8 times on the road already during 1992-93. The team had won their last two fixtures as well, and with Sunderland-born Tony Philliskirk in good form, they were expected to make a game of it. The Lads deserved the win, however, although it did little to improve matters going forward.

Two narrow defeats followed and a season that had failed to ever get out of second gear soon started heading in the wrong direction altogether. Sunderland could only manage two more wins after beating Peterborough and the campaign ended with them only just avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth – the charity of others going a long way as results elsewhere on the final day proved to be enough to keep them up.

John Colquhoun had a dig. Image from 1992-93 Derby County match day programme

Saturday 13 March 1993

Barclays League Division One

Sunderland 3 (Davenport 76, Goodman 80, Cunnington 86)

Peterborough United 0

Sunderland: Norman; Kay, Butcher, Ball, Ord; Colquhoun, Atkinson, Owers (Cunnington 83), Armstrong; Goodman, Davenport. Unused: Mi. Gray

Roker Park, attendance 18,372

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