SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Late point at Wolves, Alnwick to join Tottenham

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

JACK IN THE BOX

Elliott’s always likely to pop up with a goal

Inspired Darren Ward handed the credit to Stephen Elliott for Sunderland’s gritty draw at Wolves last night.

Ward kept the Black Cats in it as they wobbled at Molineaux before a late rally saw them grasp an unlikely point.

Roy Keane’s mean might even have snatched victory at the death, but Sunderland’s goalkeeper was the first to accept that his side would not have deserved it.

Ward said: “I made a couple of saves at crucial times that kept us in the game and of course I’m happy with that.

“Only a couple of weeks ago we felt aggrieved to have conceded a late goal against Southampton that was deflected past me and here tonight we’ve had one go our way with Sleeves (Elliott) getting his goal.

“If we get the ball in the box for Sleeves, he’ll get us goals. He’s a livewire.

“I don’t know is ratio of goals to games this season but it must be up there with the best in the division.

“You don’t want to heap too much on one player, but if we keep him fit then he will be a danger and a good outlet.”

It took a superb strike from Jemal Johnson to beat in-form Ward but the Wales international prevented Wolves from running away with it, one second-half save from sub Leon Clarke gaining most of the plaudits.

“After the game we were saying we might even have won the game, but that would have been unjust on Wolves,” said Ward.

“I got close to their goal and on another day I might have touched it onto the bar. But if was a good strike and the whip of it was always going away from me.

“The important thing is that we’re three games unbeaten now and that’s the sort of run you need. If you can pick up points away from home when you’re not playing particularly well, which was the case at Wolves, then it’s a good thing.

“It will be another tough away trip from us on Tuesday at QPR but we’re on a little run and that helps confidence.”

The pre-match hype surrounded managers Keane and Mick McCarthy but, as Ward himself had predicted during the week, the players showed no sign of allowing that to sidetrack them.

He added: “It was a big event for the cameras obviously and it has been in the press, but for us as players it was just game-on. We were just concentrating on staying unbeaten, and we achieved that.”

BEN OFF TO SPURS!

White Hart Lane move agreed for Alnwick

Ben Alnwick is on his way out of Sunderland in January, with contacts revealing that a move to Tottenham has already been agreed.

Roy Keane signed Spurs’ third-choice keeper Marton Fulop on loan this week and the Hungary international would stay at the Stadium of Light as part of the deal, with around £1million also coming to the Black Cats for their England Under-21 international.

Alnwick was linked with a move to White Hart Lane in the summer after submitting a transfer request. But he committed his future to Wearside after Niall Quinn – then manager as well as chairman – handed the Prudhoe-born goalkeeper the No. 1 shirt and opened talks over a new contract.

That deal was signed in August, tying the 19-year-old to Sunderland until 2010, and he started the first 11 Championship games of the season before being taken out of the firing line after a 4-1 loss at Preston.

Alnwick, who will be 20 on New Year’s Day, has become unsettled after being dropped from the first team and the Echo understands he was given permission to speak to Spurs about their ongoing interest. Some personal terms have yet to be agreed.

He is currently out of action with a shoulder injury, which is genuine and nothing to do with his move to London.

Darren Ward has been preferred in goal for the last seven games and has hardly put a foot – or glove – wrong, proving his side’s saviour on more than one occasion with some impressive saves and solid all-round goalkeeping.

The loss of a fine product of Sunderland’s youth system is regrettable. Alnwick is still highly regarded on Wearside and among England coaches and is still expected to be a top-class performer, as reflected in Tottenham’s investment.

But the player feels he needs a fresh challenge and manager Keane is happy with more experience in a pivotal area of the team.