SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Win at QPR, Roy Keane put through hell

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

KAV: PROVE WE’RE REAL DEAL

Sunderland must prove they’re the real deal for promotion by capitalising on consecutive home games against Norwich and Luton, says Graham Kavanagh.

The Black Cats made it four games unbeaten with a 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers last night, a triumph that was far more comprehensive than the scoreline suggested.

Roy Keane’s men have steadily climbed the Championship table to 14th, but Kavanagh – an influential force at Loftus Road last night – says he and his colleagues have to keep the run going.

He said: “It was a good three points for us last night. It could have been 10-2, but we missed a lot of chances and were delighted to hold on in the end.

“This run will build confidence, but we’ve been on this kind of run before and not kicked on from it.

“These two home games coming up are vital. If we can get six points, it will set us up nicely going into Christmas.

“We could be on the edge of the play-offs or perhaps even in the play-offs.

“Norwich and Luton will not come to roll over for us, so there are no guarantees. But if we can keep the run going then we can send a real statement out that we’re capable of promotion, which I firmly believe we are.”

First-half goals from Daryl Murphy and Grant Leadbitter were the lease Sunderland deserved from a dominant performance at QPR last night.

The visitors squandered half-a-dozen other goal opportunities before slack defending allowed sub Ray Jones a 73rd-minute goal that lifted home hopes.

There was still time for Ross Wallace to miss an absolute sitter and Dave Connolly to hit the post, but the Black Cats were grateful again to goalkeeper Darren Ward for a late save.

Kavanagh said: “We had plenty of chances to kill off the game and didn’t take them. It was an iffy sort of performance because we knew there would be a time when QPR got a bit of momentum.

“They might even have got a draw. I don’t think it would have been deserved, but that happens if you are on top in a game and don’t take your chances.

“Wardy made a great save at the end to preserve the win and perhaps we’ve earned that because we got nothing at Norwich after playing well and saw Southampton take a point with a late equaliser against us at home.

“A two-goal lead isn’t always as comfortable as it sounds.

“We ended up holding on and we had to be brave and strong. We have to keep defending high up the pitch.”

Kavanagh hopes the victory will boost crowds at the Stadium of Light.

“Our away fans have been great for us in these last couple of games and we’ve got to go and give the home fans something to shout about now,” he said.

“I think we had 2,500 at QPR, which is amazing for such a long midweek trip. Hopefully we can get a big crowd in against Norwich and keep moving up this league.”

KEANE ADMITS: LADS PUT ME THROUGH HELL

Roy Keane said his Sunderland team put him through “hell” in the dying stages of a game they dominated at QPR last night but simply could not make sure of until the final whistle.

He said: “It was a long night in general and a long second half in particular.

“We played extremely well and should have killed the game off – we kept creating and missing chances and, when that happens, you fear it’s one of those nights when you’re going to get punished for missing opportunities.

“In the end, Darren Ward had to make a great save in the very last minute to make sure of a win which should have been far more comfortable.

“But I’m happy with the win. I don’t think anyone could argue that, on the balance of play, we deserved it and I’m delighted to have another three points.

“I’m pleased for the fans, too.

“They travelled in great numbers for a fixture which was not ideal for us in terms of starting time in London, so it’s nice we got the win for their sake, although it would have been nicer if we could have got a few more at their end in the second half.

“Come to think of it, it would have been good for all of us.

“Because I don’t know what the fans went through in the second half, but for us on the bench, it’s bloody hell!”

Victory extended Sunderland’s unbeaten run to four games – eight points from a possible 12 which has established the club solidly mid-table in the Championship with the prospect of pushing on further.”

Keane, now up to 14th place and still just six points adrift of the play-off places, said: “We certainly hope that will be the case, we hope we’re heading in the right direction.

“There’s a lot of hard work to do, though.

“Consistency is the key word because, as soon as you get one or two decent results, it’s amazing sometimes how quickly you can climb the table.

“But to go anywhere we are going to have to go on some sort of properly decent run.

“On the back of two wins and two draws, we hope we are heading in the right direction,but we know we are not in a position to get excited just yet.”