The magic of the cup: goals, tension and the famous Roker Roar were all on display in this FA Cup classic on this day, 18th March 1992. Sunderland had returned from Stamford Bridge with an unlikely but deserved 1-1 draw in the first game. John Byrne, who would score in every round but the final, earned the Second Division Black Cats a replay against top-flight Chelsea.
Sunderland were struggling in the second tier at the time and relegation was a real possibility. However, in the FA Cup, they were a different team and a match for anyone. Chelsea were the favourites, but on this night with a packed Roker Park behind them, the Black Cats were not going to give Chelsea an easy time.
On This Day: Sunderland v Chelsea
Home Side Take the Lead
Under the guidance of caretaker manager Malcolm Crosby, Sunderland had already knocked out West Ham United after a replay and, after drawing at Stamford Bridge, they were in confident mood. Ian Porterfield, the scorer of Sunderland’s famous winner in the FA Cup final against Leeds United in 1973, was in charge of Chelsea, giving this game a real FA Cup flavour. A night to remember was on its way with a semi-final place the prize.
Former Manchester United striker Peter Davenport had a difficult time on Wearside but in the FA Cup, alongside John Byrne, he enjoyed his best spell at the club. Sunderland started the game brightly, creating chances and having a goal disallowed. However, on 20 minutes, it was the Byrne-Davenport combination that gave Sunderland the lead.
Former Queens Park Rangers hitman Byrne broke down the right, cut inside, forcing the Chelsea keeper to make a save. The ball then broke to Davenport who cooly put the home side in front. The Blues of Chelsea had half chances but Sunderland held firm to take a half-time lead.
Chelsea Pile on the Pressure
Chelsea were a different team in the second half. Chance after chance was created but in Tony Norman, Sunderland had a goalkeeper in tremendous form. If the Blues did find a way past Norman, there was a home defender ready to clear off the line. Sunderland had chances to extend their lead but Chelsea were looking the more dangerous.
With five minutes remaining, Chelsea got the equaliser they were threatening. A long ball from keeper Dave Beasant found its way to Denis Wise deep inside the Sunderland box, and the England midfielder gave Chelsea the belief after finally defeating Norman, that they could now go on to win.
Dramatic Late Winner
Sunderland, being roared on by their sold-out famous old ground Roker Park, were not about to give up their dream. A corner was won in front of Chelsea’s travelling fans and it was met by Gordon Armstrong on the edge of the 18-yard box with a bullet header, the ball flying into the corner.
Few last gasp goals have brought such noise and celebration than the one scored on this day in 1992. No one in attendance or watching on television would forget this classic. It was a game that captured the magic of the FA Cup and few games since this night have done this.