JACK COLBACK says Sunderland must target Wednesday’s visit of Aston Villa as the moment to end their four-month stay in the relegation zone.
Colback’s stoppage time leveller extended Sunderland’s unbeaten run to five games on Saturday after the Black Cats dramatically battled back from two goals down at fellow strugglers Cardiff to rescue a point.
A win would have taken Gus Poyet’s side up to 17th place after results elsewhere all went in their favour.
But the Black Cats still managed to narrow the gap with the safety mark to just two points, and a win in New Year’s Day’s clash against Villa could see Sunderland move out of the drop zone for the first time since August.
Colback told the Echo: “We’re only two points away now and we need to look to win against Villa, keep the unbeaten run going and move out of the bottom three.
“We’ve got some good games coming up against bottom-half teams.
“Those games are always tough, but we can give ourselves a good chance.
“There’s been a couple of times when we’ve had good wins and then ended up losing the next game. We couldn’t afford to let that gap get any bigger on Saturday.
“Regardless of the other results, we were hoping to win at Cardiff because it was a good opportunity for us.
“We knew about all the trouble at Cardiff and we were hoping to take advantage of that.
“But from the position we were in, we were more than happy to come away with a point.”
Sunderland had been poor for long periods at the Cardiff City Stadium and looked destined for defeat after Jordon Mutch’s early opener was followed by a second from ex-Black Cats striker Fraizer Campbell.
But once Steven Fletcher pulled one back in the 83rd minute with his first goal since October, Sunderland piled on the pressure and went close several times before substitute Colback’s shot was deflected into the top corner with just 10 seconds remaining of injury time.
The midfielder said: “It’s a massive result for us. To be honest, we couldn’t afford to lose with the way the other results went.
“We needed to take advantage of that and we managed to do it.
“As soon as we got the first goal back, we looked dangerous and that pressure paid off at the end.
“We want to play good football and pass it around.
“But sometimes, in games like that, it’s difficult to do that. As much as you try, it’s hard.
“We kept going though and Fletcher’s goal was a brilliant finish. Then we got the bit of luck at the end with the deflection.
“But I think it was thoroughly deserved.
“Fletch had another one when he slipped a bit, Bardo (Phil Bardsley) had one, I had a shot from the edge of the area which I shanked wide.
“But we looked dangerous and they were struggling.
“I don’t think it was too much of a surprise to get the equaliser.”
Sunderland’s persistence was all the more admirable after Fabio Borini was taken to hospital at half-time due to a sickness virus.
Colback added: “He was sick before the game and he was struggling a bit. He managed to get through 45 minutes.
“We just had to concentrate on the game because we’re in a difficult position in the table.”
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