Jim Scoular at right half would have pulled Newcastle through to at least a draw despite just about their worst post war display. That is an after match statement which cannot be proved or disproved. It suggests no fault in team choice or performance but is at least an honest impression following Sunderland's well earned cup victory at Gallowgate. This was a game so barren of quality and personal inspiration, due to a considerable extent, to a very strong and troublesome wind plus tension natural in a derby.
The one assertive United counter to the non stop bite and confidence for Sunderland of the outstandingly mobile Elliott, could well have established a stalemate, perhaps even better, a United checkmate. As it was iron man Elliott cutting increasingly through the wind which rocked others off balance just about won the game on his own, with due respect to Holden who actually scored the goals.
With Reg Davies baffled by the conditions plus the marking strength of big Aitken and Shackleton giving Elliott increasing aid, Stokoe was kept struggling and turning on this flank while attack minded Scoular was pegged down defensively against noted goalpoacher Fleming.
As things worked out they might have been different if Stokoe had changed over, with the former watching Fleming. Only by recourse to supposition could one escape acceptance of Sunderland as clear cut victors. Few footballers would have moved so untiringly round the field in the strong wind as did Elliott except maybe Milburn. He was wasted on such a day on his ill served wing and might well have switched inside.
Altogether it was a day of blight, spread right through the Newcastle side except for a bustling Batty, who took on the cup fighting cloak of Cowell with Paterson having a bad day. The solidity of Daniel, foraging of Elliott and persistence of Holden gave Sunderland a decided advantage through the middle for Keeble was completely uninspired. Milburn did probably as much as could be expected. He hit the shot of the game, deflected by Daniels head for a corner, and then sent through a floater which Keeble nodded down for the unhappy Davies to make the miss of the game.
These chances to Newcastle early in the second half with the wind behind them at least restores their aim to create openings, maybe a less productive policy than hit and chase and shoot under these conditions. Earliest promise had come from the United left often due to the fine defensive heading of Scoular. As play progressed Bingham, who had always troubled McMichael by his slick ground work became the persistent player on the flank and completed Sunderland's ascendancy.
Davies and Curry did put up a very useful show against the wind until the interval, working well and tackling bravely. Later, the time lag in controlling the ball in the wind proved especially destructive to Uniteds ball players who in calm conditions may have dictated play. The inswinging corner kicking of Shackleton and Elliott was dangerous with the visitors having 11 flag kicks to United's 8.
Shackleton had his bit of fun near the end when whacking several balls perkily out of play and taking such long runs for corners at the Leazes end that he seemed to be joining the unhappy United supporters leaving the ground. One doubts if the ball was in play for over an hour. There were no fewer than 87 touch throws, 52 of them to Sunderland who took 10 goal kicks to United's 20.
Holden headed the first goal 4 mins before the interval with Paterson right beside him. Simpson having advanced some three yards, no more than heard the ball whistle past his ear into the net. No doubt anxious to keep the ball in play with Holden in attendance caused Paterson to let in the Roker leader for number two in the 83rd min.
Holden was commendably cool in dribbling in from the right with Paterson and Simpson both demoralised and rolling the ball home as Batty made a desperate slide across the line. Receipts of £9,600 topped the recent Gallowgate record established against Stoke. The extra 6p charged in the paddock raised cash returns.
Sunderland supporters, or at least those of them sufficiently recovered from the impact of that almost too good to be true victory over Newcastle, spent a joyous weekend. For the second season running their team is but a stride away from Wembley. This undistinguished cup tie can be discussed briefly.
One was less surprised by Sunderland's merit than by Newcastles lack of it. How much of United's difficulties were caused for them by Sunderland's tenacity in defence and persistence in attack is difficult to say, but the impression is that in the early stages at least they actually received a certain amount of encouragement in the form of misplaced Sunderland passes.
The Wearsiders half backs were particularly remiss in this respect and yet it was strength in the middle line as much as anything that enabled Sunderland to dominate midfield for so long. The “double banked” method of tackling the Milburn-Mitchell menace involved the half backs in a great deal of running about but they in turn had some of the weight taken off them by the ceaseless activity of Elliott, a prime mover in this victory.
In what was essentially a team victory it would be unfair to over emphasise the star angle in analysing Sunderland's performance but certainly top marks go to Elliott. Three other forwards, Holden, Bingham and Shackleton were well up the list. Holden's valuable goals should do a lot to encourage more self confidence for no doubt the best has not yet been seen of the centre forward. Victory was achieved despite the fact that Fleming normally their most dangerous forward did not strike anything like his best form until late in the game