SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Whitehead eyes double, Ladies off to a flyer

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

DEAN AIMS FOR AWAY DOUBLE:

DEAN WHITEHEAD is targeting an away day double when Sunderland hit the promotion trail after the international break.

 The Black Cats are back from their overseas training camp and will have the weekend off before preparing for back-to-back away games at Preston on Saturday week and Stoke four days later.

 Roy Keane started out his management career with a pair of away wins and Whitehead says a repeat of that would have Sunderland right in the thick of it after beating Sheffield Wednesday at home last weekend.

 The midfielder said: “We got a great start when the gaffer arrived and those away performances set out standards.

 “We played well going forward but we also showed we can be hard to beat.

 “We have a lot of players who can create and score goals, but you have to work just as hard at the back, particularly away from home when teams come at you more.

 “If we can get good results in the two away games, with the league being so tight we could be right up there.

 “We’ve not had the best of starts, but we’ve picked up results in the last five or six games and we’re not far off the top six.”

 Whitehead has been ever-present so far this season and says boss Keane’s decision to take his squad away to the sun was a shrewd move.

 “I’ve never done this sort of thing during a season before so it was something new for me to experience,” he said.

 “We did some running to keep us ticking over, but rest is as important as training in football. We’re 10 games into the season and we’ve got three games in a week after the international break.

 “You’ve got to give your body some time to recover because this league is demanding. We’re also trying to play at a high-tempo, which takes it out of you but is enjoyable.”

 Five Sunderland players – Dwight Yorke (Trinidad & Tobago), Liam Miller (Republic of Ireland), Stanislav Varga (Slovakia), Ben Alnwick (England U21s) and Trevor Carson (Northern Ireland U19s) have gone away on international duty and missed the club’s Euro jaunt.

 Whitehead said: “Those lads will have a busy time but the rest of us will have an opportunity to get over various knocks and pains in time for the Preston game, which I’m sure will be tough.”

 Carson was in goal for Ireland as they lost 1-0 to Georgia in Romania yesterday. The young Ulstermen also face Belgium tomorrow and Romania on Monday in European Championships qualifiers.

LADIES SEE THE LIGHT WITH SUPERB WIN:

SUNDERLAND Ladies kick-started their season with victory in their first home match last night.

 But the 2-0 Albany Park success against Doncaster Rovers Belles so nearly did not take place, as a floodlight failure delayed kick-off for almost 40 minutes.

 Belles, defending a 100 per cent start in the Women’s Premier League, began confidently as Sunderland’s young team struggled to find their rhythm.

 But, for all the visitors’ possession, the hosts were more positive in front of goal, as Carr and Sophie Williams tested the keeper.

 Sunderland took the lead on nine minutes after great work down the left by Williams. She would not give up what seemed a lost cause as she won the ball and delivered a perfect cross for Steph O’Brien to drill a shot high into the roof of the net.

 Belles were denied an equaliser by brilliant tackles by Bannon and Wilson.

 The, after successive corners, Sunderland extended their lead in the 35th minute as the ball broke to Williams on the right to hit a magnificent strike into the top corner.

 Goalkeeper Helen Alderson bravely denied Belles a 50th-minute reply, throwing herself at a forward’s feet, and making another fine stop soon after.

 Sunderland had their moments as a powerful run by skipper Steph Houghton resulted in a shot which skimmed the crossbar. Seconds later, she shot narrowly wide.

 Redhead and Bannon were resilient in defence, but Doncaster struck the woodwork twice in the closing stages before being awarded an injury-time penalty. But Alderson ensured a clean sheet as she dived to her left to push away the spot-kick.

 Boss Mick Mulhern said: “We have worked hard in training to put things right. We have not deserved the bad luck in recent games as we have played well, but last night everyone battled hard and got the result they deserved.”