SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Cats in battle for Stokes, Preston complete treble

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

TEN MEN MISS OUT:

Miller sees red as cup hopes are dashed

PRESTON completed the treble over Sunderland this afternoon as the Wearsiders fell at the first hurdle in the FA Cup.

 They were pushed towards the exit doors by Brett Ormerod’s 31st-minute goal and then given a mountainous setback five minutes later when Liam Miller was dismissed for his second yellow-card offence.

 Sunderland had been the better side up until Ormerod’s strike, but the Wearsiders paid for their lack of penetration when Callum Davidson punted a ball upfield and Ormerod got past the out-rushing Darren Ward and steered a right-foot across debutant defender Jonny Evans on the line.

 Sunderland manager Roy Keane blooded both his new signings, Evans starting the game and Carlos Edwards coming on a second-half substitute as the Wearsiders tried desperately to get something out the match.

 It said everything about their spirit and resolve that the ten men outplayed the home team for much of the second half and they could easily have forced a replay had David Connolly’s 85th-minute effort, which looked a goal all the way, not been blocked out virtually on the line by skipper Gary Alexander.

 Preston – who beat Sunderland home and away in the league earlier this season – carved out several good chances of their own over the 90 minutes to make the win more comfortable, but the important thing was the final scoreline and when the whistle finally blew it was Preston’s name going into the fourth-round draw.

CATS FACE BATTLE FOR STOKES:

SUNDERLAND are involved in a three-way battle for striker Anthony Stokes.

 The Arsenal forward, who has made his name this season while on loan to Falkirk in the Scottish Premier League, is believed to be talking terms with Scottish giants Celtic today.

 The Hoops, managed by Gordon Strachan, have reportedly agreed a fee in the region of £2m for the 18-year-old Irishman, who is a Celtic supporter.

 Sunderland, though, are not out of the race. Both they and Premiership strugglers Charlton are believed to have also agreed a fee with Arsenal for the player. And both have reportedly talked terms with the teenager, who has score 16 goals in 18 games this season.

 Stokes played in a trial match for Sunderland last summer when chairman Niall Quinn was acting-manager, but was not taken on. His boyhood idol, though, was Roy Keane and that could possibly give the Black Cats an edge.

 This week’s signing of Luton winger Carlos Edwards for £1.5m shows that Sunderland will back Keane with cash for signings – and although £2m is a lot to spend on a teenager, it could prove a good long-term investment.

 Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: “Nothing is decided because there are some clubs in for him. In the end it will be Stokes who makes the choice.

 “We have a congestion of strikers and it is very unfair just to stop somebody because we have too much congestion in front of him.”

 Wenger insisted his relationship with new Charlton boss Alan Pardew – having been involved in a touchline bust-up with West Ham earlier in the season – would have no impact on a potential move to The Valley.

 The Arsenal manager said: “I would never stop a player going somewhere because I do not like the manager.”