SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Who is this kid Gareth Bale?

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

SAINTS BALED OUT

Super Wallace strike cruelly cancelled out at the death (Sunderland 1 Southampton 1)

Sunderland were cruelly denied all three points this afternoon when Southampton levelled with a deflected goal on the stroke of full-time.

There seemed little danger when full-back Gareth Bale picked up possession on the left goal with the clock ticking down.

But his speculative drive through a crowed penalty box saw the ball clip the heels of Steve Caldwell and fly past Darren Ward.

It was bad luck for Sunderland and for Ward, in particular, who had made a string of excellent saves over the course of the afternoon.

Despite Southampton keeping Ward busy, it was Sunderland who dominated the majority of the game and there could by no complaints from the visitors when Roy Keane’s men took the lead in the 62nd minute from 20 yards out past former Black Cats keeper Kelvin Davis.

Neither keeper had much to do in the first half, but the second period saw both sides going for goal.

Substitute Stephen Elliott went desperately close, a couple of minutes from time, but his fierce shot was blocked out by David and then Bale went on to break the Black Cats’ hearts – and leave them sixth bottom in the Championship.

BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS

Liam Miller has vowed to step up his workrate in a bid to recapture his place in Roy Keane’s struggling Sunderland side.

The 25-year-old Irishman has not featured in the last four games, including back-to-back defeats at the hands of Cardiff and Norwich.

He has yet to get a sniff in his favoured central midfield slot, but admits he’ll play anywhere to get back into the reckoning as the Black Cats prepared for consecutive home games against Southampton today and Colchester next weekend.

Miller said: “It’s very frustrating when you are not playing. Any player in my position would say that and the manager would expect me to be unhappy.

“There is quite a big squad here and we all want to play every week, which can’t happen.

“I have to get my head down in training and get on with it. The only reaction to have is to work harder and harder to impress the manager.

“I’ve been playing in the right when I was in the side but feel more comfortable in the middle. I’ll play anywhere for the team, though, because it’s always better to be on the pitch than on the bench watching.”

Keane has used 23 players in his 11 games in charge and has not named the same side in consecutive games.

Former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Miller said: “Injuries have played a big part in that and it has been up to all of the lads who have played to take their chance.

“The manager won’t accept second-best from anyone and wants to see us doing our jobs.

“My next chance could be at any time so you always have to be ready.”

Sunderland have already lost nine Championship games this season and are seven points adrift of the play-offs, 13 points behind the increasingly unlikely prospect of automatic promotion.

Miller said: “I think we have been putting in some good performances, but the results have not followed.

“The play-offs are still very much in reach for us. There are a hell of a lot of games to play and I would not write us off for the top two even.

“But we have to make use of these two home games and get points on the board.”