Black Cats purr past Watford
By Adam Marshall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sunderland recorded a 4-2 victory against Watford in windy conditions.
Sunderland took their foot off the gas but only after they had made certain of securing another important three points in their bid for promotion to The Premiership.
Mick McCarthy's men raced into a 4-0 advantage with Marcus Stewart scoring a hat-trick only for Bruce Dyer's late double to take some of the gloss of a convincing performance.
Stewart has been rejuvenated in recent weeks as he bids to earn a new contract at The Stadium of Light and his treble was a key component of a fine display by the home side in blustery conditions.
Stephen Elliott's centre granted Stewart the opportunity to nod his side in front after 19 minutes and the former Ipswich attacker doubled the advantage from the penalty spot by expertly beating Paul Jones from 12 yards.
James Chambers's foul on raiding full back George McCartney led to the award but the officials did Sunderland no favours soon afterwards when ruling out Julio Arca's goal for off-side.
A mistake by Jones five minutes after the break effectively sealed Watford's fate as the experienced keeper made a hash of McCartney's hopeful ball forward and Stewart was not going to pass up the opportunity of claiming his second hat-trick of the campaign after a triple haul at Gillingham.
Heidur Helguson went close on a couple of occasions but Sunderland substitute Chris Brown proved an effective replacement for Stewart, who left to a rousing ovation. Jones conceded a corner when keeping out a Dean Whitehead attempt and the resulting flag-kick saw Steve Caldwell tee up Brown's emphatic finish.
Dyer raised Watford's spirits after replacing Helguson by steering home from close range and he managed to loft the ball over Thomas Myhre in injury time to make it 4-2 but there should have been more than two goals between the two sides at the end.
Elliott and Brown spurned openings to extend The Black Cats' lead before Dyer hit his second in injury time.