Sunderland 1 Leeds United 2

Last updated : 26 December 2002 By Footymad Previewer

Fowler, who had just replaced Mark Viduka, easily beat goalkeeper Jurgen Macho after Michael Proctor was adjudged to have brought down Harry Kewell to complete a spirited second-half fightback.

Proctor had given Sunderland a deserved 34th minute lead when he met a centre from Kevin Phillips to head firmly past Paul Robinson, the ball hitting the underside of the bar before bouncing up into the roof of the net.

Sunderland had plenty of chances to kill off their opponents, Phillips in particular guilty of not putting the game beyond the visitors, and they paid the price.

Jason Wilcox cut in along the byline and James Milner enhanced his growing reputation by ramming in the equaliser from close range to the delight of manager Terry Venables.

“He is growing in this squad,'' enthused Venables. “He is getting better and I am very pleased for him.

“His chance has come about because of so many injuries but he has taken advantage and shown what he can do in training.

“We knew Sunderland would come at us after they had just had a couple of good results and hit us with a lot of aerial problems. With Woodgate ruled out yesterday we had to jiggle it around and I thought we dealt with it well.”Sunderland boss Howard Wilkinson was far from downhearted and considered attacking wise it was the best performance since he arrived at the club.

“We have to look back at the performance and be positive,” he said.

“Everything apart from the result was fine and the players threatened and looked positive.

“Kevin Phillips scored two goals at West Brom last Saturday from four or five chances. He has had more than that today and not scored. If he gets the same at Southampton on Saturday I bet he will score goals.”Phillips hit the bar with an 18th minute header but was denied on at least three occasions by man-of-the-match Paul Robinson.

Leeds had to overcome the loss of the impressive Alan Smith after a clash of heads with Kevin Kilbane, but in teenager Milner had more than a capable substitute.

Smith put Kewell in the clear in the sixth minute only for Macho to pull off a stunning save, but it was Robinson in the Leeds goal who was by far the busier goalkeeper.

Howard Wilkinson made a treble 82nd minute substitution but Fowler's penalty proved to be the last goalscoring opportunity.