SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Black Cats moving on up, Keane talks up Stokes

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

SUNDERLAND 2 LUTON TOWN 1

MOVING ON UP!

Connolly seals fourth win in five for Keane

SUNDERLAND extended their unbeaten run to six games in a row today in a thrillingly close game – as they moved into the top half of the Championship table for the first time this season.

The 30,445-strong crowd got full value for money in a match often played at break-neck speed and in which both teams went on to attack at every opportunity.

Luton took an early lead in only the fifth minute when striker Dean Morgan saw his original shot from the right of the area blocked by Stan Varga only to come straight back at him. He composed himself to drive a low shot home across debutant keeper Marton Fulop.

Sunderland were back on level terms though just six minutes later when Daryl Murphy came out best in a challenge with full-back Leon Barnett and raced towards goal from the left before driving a rising shot over keeper Dean Kiely.

Sunderland took the lead for the first time in the game in the 53rd minute when David Connolly swivelled on a shot in the area and swept a low ball into the bottom of the right-hand corner of Kiely’s goal and the home team hung on for victory.

It was far from an easy ride, though as Luton continued with the positive, attacking football they played all the way through the game.

Sunderland held firm, though, with every player playing their part in a win – their fourth in five games – which puts the Black Cats genuinely into the race for the play-off places.

STOKES IS ON KEANE’S HIT LIST

Cats boss keeping tabs on striker

ROY KEANE says reports of the size of Sunderland’s “war chest” have been seriously exaggerated.

And he has revealed he will be shopping in the January sales rather than looking to break the bank.

He told the Echo: “We certainly haven’t got a fortune to spend, but I think there’s a perception out there is some parts of the game that we do.

I think there’s a danger that people are expecting January to come along and we’ll be spending 15, 20, 30 or 40 million.

“I don’t think so.

“We are hoping to be in the market for players – of course we are – but we will have to wheel and deal like everyone else.

Keane had admitted his interest in Arsenal striker Anthony Stokes, who has made a name for himself in Scotland with Falkirk this season but the Sunderland boss warned the Gunners will be looking for “top money” for the player.

Ironically, Stokes played in Sunderland colours in the close season in a trial game but did not convince the then management – led by Niall Quinn – that he was worthy of a loan deal.

Keane, though, has been impressed after watching the 18-year-old Irishman – who has scored 13 goals in the SPL this season – in action.

I have seen him play twice in the last month against Celtic and Hearts, two of the better teams in Scotland, and he played very well,” said Keane. “We’re interested in any quality player, he has done very well and he’s someone we’re looking at, I have to say that.

“He’s a goalscorer and he’s a threat. He makes good runs and is direct. He’s a real good talent and he’s young. He’s a young, hungry player.”

Keane will also have to deal with players returning to the club in January as well as bringing in loan players himself.

He added: “You have to remember that we have eight or nine players who are due to come back to the club in January. And while some of them will be going out on loan again, there could be one or two who will be staying.

“Some of them have done very well and added that bit of experience under their belts and could be useful to the squad. As far as signings go, in an ideal world we’d like everyone bring in to join the club permanently.

“But sometimes that isn’t realistic and we have to look at the possibility of bringing in some players on loan.

“One or two of the players we’ve been talking to and looking to bring in, it’s understandable that their clubs don’t want them to leave on a full-time basis.

“But they do want them to get more first team games under their belt and that’s where we might be able to benefit them and them benefit us.”