SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Hysen says pressure is on promotion rivals

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting 10 years ago today.

COOL FOR CATS!

Toby Hysen insists all of the pressure is on Derby and Birmingham as Sunderland’s pursuit continued with a 2-1 win at West Brom.

With the teams above them getting positive results over the weekend, it was a crucial win for the Black Cats as they target automatic promotion.

But Hysen insisted Sunderland are the cool Cats of the race for the Premiership.

He said: “As long as we keep on winning then the pressure is on the teams above us. We have been playing catch-up for a long time but we’ve set our sights on the top two.

“It is up to Derby and Birmingham to protect their places and they’ll know that we’re on such a great run that we will give them a problem.”

Hysen appeared as a substitute after Carlos Edwards was taken out of the game by a Richard Chaplow challenge, which went unpunished.

But the change of personnel did not knock Sunderland out of their stride as goals from Trinidad & Tobago internationals Dwight Yorke and Stern John put the visitors in command at The Hawthorns.

Hysen said: “It was obviously a very important win. West Brom would have gone six points ahead of us if they’d won, but now we’re equal on points. It keeps our good run going and hopefully we can carry on from here.

“I think everyone’s pretty tired and the pitch down there was heavy from the beginning. It was hard, but now we have closed the gap between ourselves and West Brom.”

The Wearsiders’ travelling fans were in fine voice again, and there will be almost 8,000 of them at Barnsley next weekend.

Swedish winger Hysen can’t wait for the next game.

He said: “Our fans are always great and I’m just happy we were able to reward their support. We will love it at Barnsley with them behind us and hopefully we can continue this good run of away results for them.”

STERN WARNING!

Stern John admits he’s still settling in at Sunderland.

But his third goal for the Black Cats in their 2-1 win at West Brom on Saturday will surely have helped.

And the backing of the Wearsiders’ fans is also playing a part as the Trinidad & Tobago international kept Sunderland on the march with a vital victory over fellow promotion contenders.

John, who also made his side’s first goal for countryman Dwight Yorke, said: “It’s a massive win for the team.

“West Brom have been playing fantastic football. To get a win there shows the attitude of our team and how much we want to win whenever we play.

“I suppose you could say that it was a game won in Trinidad. I have played with Dwight for so long that we both know each other’s game.

“We complement each other really well. But it’s not just about us. We have gelled as a team and the whole team is working really hard. I still think the best is still to come.”

Sunderland’s third T&T star, winger Carlos Edwards, was helped off with a worrying shoulder injury at The Hawthorns, where John admitted he is still getting used to life in the North East after spending eight years in the Midlands with Birmingham, Coventry, Derby and Nottingham Forest.

He said: “Dwight and Carlos both settled in as soon as they came to the North-East. I’m still settling in, but the fame are making it easier.

“When I look into the crowd and I see Trinidad & Tobago flags, it give me goose bumps. I just want to repay the fans for that.

“The gaffer asked Dwight about me and he told him I’m a player who can hold the ball up. I have been in this league for a few years and I have good experience.

“The manager took a chance and I want to repay him as well. I had a good chance to go back to Birmingham and it would’ve been ideal for me because I have lived in the Midlands for so long.

“It has been the harder move to go to the North-East because my family are still in the Midlands, but that’s part and parcel of the game. We’re professionals and you have to get on with it.”

Sunderland are now unbeaten in 10 Championship games, winning eight of them. “If you’re going to go on a run, now’s the perfect time to do it,” added John.

“You have to stay in contention throughout the season, but this is the time to go for it. If you’re going to peak as a team, you want to do it now.

“That’s what happened at Birmingham and I hope we can do the same here. There are similarities. I came in just after Christmas at Birmingham and managed to score some goals and that’s happening again.”

Lowly Barnsley – to host Sunderland this Saturday – lost 3-1 to Norwich at the weekend with Hungarian Istvan Ferenczi grabbing their consolation after trailing 3-0 at the interval.

Oakwell boss Simon Davey said: “The lads stuck at their task. It’s not a disappointment.”