SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Sunderland beat Plymouth, Yorke ready for big push

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

STOKES IT UP!

Sub Anthony set up fine win

SUNDERLAND extended their unbeaten run to six games in a row today thanks to second half goals in the space of three minutes.

But, frustratingly, they remain outside the play-off zone – although the Black Cats are now level on points with Southampton and Cardiff.

Substitute Anthony Stokes had only been on the pitch for three minutes when he surged on to a pass from Dean Whitehead on the left of the area, working the ball onto his right foot and drove a low shot home across keeper Luke McCormick in the 68th minute.

It was his first goal for the club since joining from Arsenal for £2m.

Argyle had barely settled down to working out how to get an equaliser when they fell further behind.

This time, a Stern John interception in the centre circle saw the ball drop fortunately to David Connolly and the flag stayed down as the striker sprinted in on goal, dragged McCormick out towards him and rounded him before stabbing a low shot home from left of goal.

A dour first half had offered little sign than an exciting and open match was to come in the second half, which saw the home team come desperately close to taking the lead within the first few minutes of the restart.

But keeper Marton Fulop was in excellent form throughout.

YORKE READY FOR BIG PUSH

DWIGHT YORKE will dig deep to lift his form for the promotion run-in.

The veteran midfielder has been an influential presence in the last few weeks as Sunderland have caught up with the play-off pack.

At 35, he could be forgiven for feeling the pace of a demanding Championship season, but instead he’s set himself new targets.

Yorke said: “I feel in good nick and, touch wood, I have been lucky with injuries. It is the team that matters most, but it is nice to be able to contribute in some way.

“I feel like I am getting better, but there is a little bit more to come from me and that is what all of us have to look for.

“The more we win, the more players play with confidence. I’m trying to do my stuff and trying to help the team to get the results we need.”

Sunderland were hoping to push into a play-off place for the first time this season when they travelled to meet Plymouth Argyle.

Yorke has lived up to his star billing of late, but he never felt pressure to perform after joining from Australian champions Sydney in August.

“I’ve never looked on football as pressure,” insisted the former Manchester United ace.

“I knew there was a big challenge for me here. I didn’t realise what a big club this is until I got here, but I would never consider playing in front of thousands of good fans as pressure.

“I have made a good living out of the game and been blessed with a certain talent to play football. I enjoy every minute of it. Pressure is when you can’t pay the bills.

Sunderland were floundering in the relegation zone before Roy Keane arrived as manager and launched his rebuilding process.

The progress has been significant, but Yorke added: “This is where the hard work really begins.

“The team was low in confidence and self esteem when the gaffer came in and he has turned that round. At the moment, we’re going in the right direction and are in a decent position.

“But it’s a topsy-turvy league and we can’t get carried away because things can change quickly – football can kick you you-know-where at any time!”