Colin Pascoe had arrived at Roker Park during the 87-88 promotion season’s tail end. Signed from Swansea City, the 22-year-old Welshman had netted on his debut at York City, and went on to net a further three goals in the eight games that remained.
He added a touch of quality to our attack, a deft touch, smart interlinking play, a turn of pace and the ability to finish, and Denis Smith saw him as a potential long-term successor to Eric Gates, as Marco Gabbiadini’s partner up front.
Chances to play through the middle were few and far between, however. Despite the famous G-force partnership in Division Three, Denis Smith broke it up quickly the following season, signing Billy Whitehurst from Reading to partner Marco up front.
It worked, sort of, but Big Billy was sacrificed to get Tony Norman after only four months at Roker, and Thomas Hauser arrived to take the ‘target man’ role in the squad.
Hauser had scored his first goal for the lads a couple of weeks before at Oldham, and had followed it up with his first Roker Park goal a week later against a Shrewsbury side that featured David Moyes at centre half.
Hauser and Gates had been thrown together to cope with the four-match absence of the suspended Gabbiadini. But, with Pascoe returning after a four-match injury lay-off, it provided Smith the opportunity to try something new upfront against Brighton.
At this point Pascoe already had ten goals for the season, a good return from 43 games for the attacker playing his first season in the second division, although the bulk had come earlier in the campaign.
Colin’s best position is playing behind the front two, but I want to see if he can get back among the goals.
It will be a good experience for him and Hauser. Thomas is learning all of the time, and playing alongside someone different should help him to pick up our style.
He’d got two goals in the last two games, and if he can keep that record up until the end of the season I’lll be happy.
It was a rare season in which Sunderland entered the final few games with nothing to play for. A mid-table finish – respectable, after the previous three seasons – had been achieved, and as such the club offered free admission to under 16s, boosting the crowd by an estimated 4000.
Hauser’s chances of adding to his goal tally were ruled out pre-game, however, the West German striker missing out. 18-year-old Warren Hawke was already in line to get his full debut after impressing from the bench in the previous game – he was pencilled in to start on the left wing – but with playmaker John Cornforth making up the numbers, a reshuffle ensued, with Hawke partnering Pascoe up front.
The first half started brightly, with Cornforth and Hawke showing up well. Hawke, reported The Journal’s Paul Nunn, was ‘lively, mobile, willing to take on defenders and seemed to know the route to goal. He also has Marco Gabbiadini’s ability to win balls in the air that someone of his height has no right to win.’
Cornforth put Gordon Armstong in the clear, only for the midfielder to be forced wide by the advancing Keeley, while Paul Lemon hit the inside of the post with a great shot from outside the box.
The only goal of the game came on 20 minutes, and it was Pascoe who netted from close range.
It was the Welshman who started the move, feeding Hawke with a great ball. Hawke went past a defender, crossed low, only for the keeper to let it squirm under him – allowing Pascoe to score.
Tony Norman was called into action at the other end of the field, saving well from Wood and Wilkins.
If the first half had entertained the youngsters, the second certainly didn’t – an Ord shot, cleared off the line, was the nearest either side came as both teams ran out of steam.
The Journal reported some in the crowd bemoaning the fact the team had put on this sort of display in the second half.
“It’s so bad, the kids will be demanding a refund!” said one.
“That’s another generation put off coming to Roker for life!” said another.
“They’ve let them in for free, but they’ll be charging them a quid to get out!”
Sunderland 1-0 Brighton
Goal: Pascoe ‘20
Sunderland: Norman, Bennett, MacPhail, Ord, Kay (Gray 55), Lemon, Owers, Cornforth. Armstrong, Hawke (Gates 81), Pascoe.
Brighton & Hove Albion: Keeley, Chivers, Dublin, Wilkins, Bissett, Chapman, Nelson, Codner, Bremner, Curbishley, Wood. Subs not used: Cooper, Owers.