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On This Day (21st August 1993): Sunderland bounce back after opening day drubbing!

Butcher’s Sunderland were torn apart by Derby County the previous week as the season kicked off and were desperate to get back on track as Charlton Athletic arrived at Roker Park.

Photo by Laurence Griffiths - PA Images via Getty Images

A summer that generated optimism and hope quickly came crashing down on the opening day of the season following a 5-0 defeat at Derby County - which you can read all about here.

Multiple signings that cost sums of money that had not been spent at Roker for far too long, promises from the manager that we would not make the same mistakes and be involved in another battle against the drop into the third tier seemed a distant memory after only 90 minutes of the new season.

In the week proceeding the capitulation at the Baseball Ground there was the small matter of a League Cup 1st round first-leg tie with Chester City to negotiate at Roker, as well as rumours continuing to do the rounds on potential incomings and outgoings.

The cup tie had the potential to go very wrong when the visitors took a 6th-minute lead and this was backed up by the fact Butcher’s Sunderland were woeful until the hour mark when Don Goodman levelled.

Soccer - Barclay’s League Division Two - Tranmere Rovers v Sunderland
Don Goodman
Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

Loan signing Lee Power, who made his debut from the bench at Derby after arriving from Norwich City for a month put the Lads ahead a few minutes later and a few minutes after that, Goodman doubled his tally to score the home side's third in seven minutes to take a useful lead into the second-leg.

On the transfer front it was becoming a frustrating picture. Butcher was appearing to be losing patience with former Manchester City and Everton midfielder Alan Harper, which was becoming a drawn out saga.

Harper had been released during the summer by Everton and had played for Sunderland in the ill-fated friendly at Middlesbrough, but had not yet agreed terms to come to Wearside. The sticking point seemed to be down to the fact the powers that be at Roker were only offering a one-year contract and he was holding out for an offer of two years as Butcher discussed:

It’s been dragging on for three weeks but every time I’ve rung Alan he has asked for more time. There’s no chance of anything happening this week.

It had also been reported that the former Rangers defender had enquired about his former teammate Mo Johnston who was out of favour at Everton, but the news was that his wage demands would be out of reach.

Soccer - Endsleigh League Division One - Peterborough United v Sunderland - London Road
Phil Gray
Photo by Paul Marriott/EMPICS via Getty Images

Next up was the visit of Charlton Athletic and Butcher desperately needed a win following the opening day debacle but of his new signings, Phil Gray was still ruled out after undergoing surgery on his eye after the accident, Ian Rodgerson was ruled out long term and Derek Ferguson had picked up a knock at Derby as well as still suffering from the incident.

Only Alec Chamberlain and Andy Melville remained from the the new blood, but there was good news that Gary Bennett was back in contention at the back and Shaun Cunnington had also recovered from a knock from the week before that kept him out of the League Cup tie in midweek.

The visitors, with their controversial joint-management team of Steve Gritt and Alan Curbishley (with Curbishley still continuing to play and taking his place on the Charlton bench at Roker), arrived in good spirits having already won their first two league games of the season.

A home win over Birmingham City and a win at Portsmouth placed them as early leaders in the table and excitement was growing around their 18-year-old winger Shaun Newton who had impressed in their two victories so far.

Soccer - Endsleigh League Division One - Peterborough United v Sunderland - London Road
Gary Bennett
Photo by Paul Marriott/EMPICS via Getty Images

For the first hour of the game, neither side took the advantage, with the game so even that there was virtually nothing of note happened other than Newton being through on goal early in the second half only to blaze a shot wide and a goalmouth scramble at the other end where the impressive Lee Power was unlucky not to score.

On 65 minutes however, the home side controversially took the lead. Sunderland were awarded a free-kick on the left hand side of the pitch around ten yards from the touchline and the same outside of the box as the Lads attacked the Fulwell End.

In the build-up to the free-kick the referee ad not noticed the linesman raise his flag for offside and in the days before headsets, the linesman eventually lowered his flag and the free-kick was taken.

It was Gary Owers with his right foot with a flat inswinger at head height that was begging to be flicked on into the far corner and Goodman was the man in the right place who perfectly did just that to put Sunderland ahead.

Soccer - FA Cup Semi Final - Sunderland v Norwich City
Gordon Armstrong
Photo by Neal Simpson/EMPICS via Getty Images

There were a couple of scares at the other end that forced Chamberlain into smart saves and then around ten minutes later, the lead was doubled. A Goodman shot was parried by Mike Salmon in the Charlton goal and Michael Gray was there to prod home from a couple of yards out.

Things got even better in the last ten minutes, firstly on 82 minutes, Michael Gray from the middle of the Charlton half expertly lifted a ball over the defence to precisely find the run of Cunnington who impressively finished on the angle to find the net going in off the opposite post.

Two minutes after that, another impressive goal. This time it was Goodman the provider who played the ball across the edge of the box to meet the late run of Gordon Armstrong who finished well on the half volley from around the penalty spot to round things up.

Things didn’t ease up in the following days for Butcher however as Peter Reid made an offer to take Goodman to Manchester City and Norwich City were asking for £300,000 to take Lee Power to Roker permanently, which after the summer spending spree was now out of our range.

Saturday 21st August, 1993

Endsleigh League Division One

Roker Park

Sunderland 4-0 Charlton Athletic

[Goodman 65’, Mi. Gray 74’, Cunnington 82’, Armstrong 84’]

Sunderland: Chamberlain, Kay, Bennett, Melville, Smith (Ma. Gray), Owers, Cunnington, Armstrong, Mi. Gray, Goodman, Power (Howey) Substitute not used: Norman

Charlton Athletic Salmon, Pitcher, Minto, Garland, McLeary, Chapple, Robinson, Newton, Leaburn, Nelson (Gorman), Walsh Substitutes not used: Vaughan, Curbishley

Attendance: 17,647


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