Bradford 0 Sunderland 1
Niall Quinn was Sunderland's poacher-turned-goalkeeper to take Peter Reid's
side a step nearer a return to the promised land of the Premiership.
Quinn's 15th goal of the season in the 72nd minute was enough to open up a
12-point lead at the top of the First Division after nearest rivals Ipswich lost
at Crystal Palace.
Four minutes later, the 33-year-old swapped his number nine shirt for the
number one as Sunderland's Danish international 'keeper Thomas Sorensen went off
with a neck injury.
Sorensen had been clattered in the box by Bradford striker Lee Mills and
seemed to suffer a neck injury. Although he received several minutes of
on-the-pitch treatment there was no way he could continue.
With no goalkeeping substitute on the bench, Quinn volunteered to take over.
The former Republic of Ireland international is no stranger to the role having
worn the gloves before.
Bradford, whose own automatic promotion hopes were helped by the defeat for
Ipswich and a draw for Bolton, failed to put Quinn under any pressure, and he
enjoyed an easy 20 minutes - including six minutes of injury-time - in goal.
The dual role arose after a first half in which the promotion-chasing
heavyweights had slugged it out with strikers Dean Windass and Kevin Phillips,
in particular, exchanging blow for blow.
The duo will have trudged off at half-time wondering how they did not break
the deadlock as three glorious opportunities went begging for each of them.
Windass, a £950,000 buy from Oxford last week was handed his debut up front
alongside Lee Mills and should have given the majority of a rain-soaked 15,000
Valley Parade crowd something to cheer.
The opener should have belonged to Sunderland as hot-shot Kevin Phillips was
given a one-on-one with Gary Walsh in the third minute, but the City keeper
stood firm to block the close-range drive.
After Mills had cracked a first-time 25-yarder inches wide of Sorensen's
left-hand post and blocked a clearance from the 'keeper which flew into the
massed ranks of City fans behind the goal, Windass spurned his hat-trick of
Jamie Lawrence was the first to set up the former Hull and Aberdeen striker in
the ninth minute, only for a fierce drive to sail straight into Sorensen's
Skipper Stuart McCall and a delightful, headed flick from Mills allowed
Windass to let fly with a cracking 16-yard half-volley which was only just over
Then 10 minutes from the break, Lawrence and Mills with another knock-on saw
the 29-year-old turn sharply in the area and strike a left-foot drive which
Sorensen did well to hold.
In between, it was Phillips who was left frustrated as he first watched Walsh
pluck a top corner-bound 20-yard curler out of the air after a mistake by Darren
Moore in the 23rd minute.
Then came the move of the game on the half-hour as the live wire striker
skipped past three challenges, exchanged incisive passes with Quinn, and put a
shot on the slide just over the bar.
The Quinn-Phillips combination was at the heart of nearly every attack, with
the latter on the end of a deft, headed pass barely a minute into the second
half, only for Walsh to save athletically.
The goalkeeping heroics stepped up a gear on the hour when Walsh somehow
turned Quinn's powerful far-post header aside after he was picked out with a
precision cross from Allan Johnston.
But with Bradford having suffered only one defeat in their last 14 and
Sunderland one in their previous 10, something had to give - and the knockout
blow duly arrived from Quinn.
Johnston swung in a corner to the near post, and Quinn was on hand to apply a
cool, headed finish, before his heroic spell between the posts.
Bradford: Walsh, Todd, Jacobs, McCall, Moore, Dreyer, Lawrence,
Blake, Mills, Whalley, Windass.
Subs Not Used: Rankin, O'Brien, Ramage.
Sunderland: Sorensen (Dichio 76), Makin, Gray, Ball, Melville,
Butler, Summerbee, Williams (Clark 61), Quinn, Phillips, Johnston.
Subs Not Used: Bridges.
Goals: Quinn 71.
Ref: A Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield).