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Sunderland 2007

Football Aid Championships, 18th May 2007, The Stadium of Light

Sunderland Home 3 Sunderland Away 3

The crowd witnessed a tense and fierce encounter in the Sunderland leg of the Football Aid championships, not even penalties separating the two determined sides in one of the most thrilling matches of the season.

Substitute Wood was the hero for the Away fans, scoring a last gasp goal to steal a draw and force the nail-biting finale while Gary Bennett led Home’s dramatic comeback in the second half, netting two goals to bring them blazing into the game.

The first half belonged to Gordon Armstrong’s Away side – which also had Barry Dunn in defence – and going into the break, they looked in line for a comfortable win. They had the perfect start, Moseby scoring in only the 3rd minute of play, coaxing the ball over the line following early pressure in the Home penalty box.

Liddell was looking dangerous in the Home team’s counter attack, beating the offside trap neatly to run clear for a 1-1 with keeper Andrews but his shot drilled wide of the left post.

Kear enjoyed a good run at goal in the 8th minute, the Away defender charging towards the edge of the box before unleashing an aggressive attempt. It seemed destined for the net until the last second when it veered just over the bar.

Home were posing problems for the Away defence, Lilley sending a superb defence splitting pass to striker Moon in the 10th minute to leave him clear on goal. Andrews was off his line quickly however to smother the move, efficiently clearing the threat.

His opposite number, O’Neill was working equally hard, preventing Clack on two separate occasions from lengthening Away’s lead – coming off his line to force an error from the dynamic defender in the first case and dramatically saving his second effort from close range.

There was no stopping Leighton’s fearsome strike in the 35th minute however. The midfielder running at Home’s defence before firing a ferocious shot into the top corner to make it 0-2.

Kear almost made it 0-3 minutes before half time, Leighton playing him in beautifully but the resulting header looped inches past the post.

Firing on all cylinders, the Home side came racing back into the game within minutes of the restart - Bennett showing his skills with a sensational solo effort, breaking though the defence at the half way line and slotting the ball low under the advancing O’Neill.

Lilley nearly made it two all 4 minutes later, striking well with his left foot but the shot sped just past the right post. In the final 20 minutes of play, it was Bennett who bagged the equaliser, repeating his earlier move by bursting through the back line to round O’Neill and slot the ball home.

The Away team could only look on in horror as the Home side then snatched the lead through a scorcher of a shot from Lilley. ‘An absolute peach of a strike’ as one spectator noted which screamed into the top left corner to make it 3-2 with only 15 minutes to go.

But just as the Home fans were celebrating victory, Wood levelled the score line in the last minute, watching in amazed delight as his scuffed shot from the edge of the box, flummoxed O’Neil and rolled into the back of the net.

As the Away fans went wild, the final whistle blew and the referee signalled for the two exhausted teams to pick their penalty contenders. For the Home team, David Bell, Kevin Murphy and Steven Moon stepped up for the nerve wrecking walk to the penalty spot while David Moseby, David Marsh and Stephen Leighton bravely put themselves forward for the Away squad.

Like true pros, all overcame their nerves to cleanly convert the penalties, leaving the final score 3-3 all in this exhilarating, rollercoaster of a match.

Home: S. O’Neill, A. Larkin, G. Bennett, A. Piercy, K. Murphy, P. Davison, S. Liddell, P. Lilley, N. Batchelor, C. Watson, S. Moon, D. Bell, SAFC Foundation, A. Larkin, J. Mulliss

Mascot: Kieran Watson

Away: S. Andrews, C. Clack, B. Dunn, S. Kear, D. Marsh, M. Thomas, S. Leighton, C. Pounder, S. Moseby, D. Moseby, M. Brown, N. Moseby, A. Wood, M. Bains, C. Pounder

Mascot: Eve Moseby