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WE CAN DO THIS!…
gomez, dick and graham craic

What a crap, rainy day, just want to disappear into my room and watch all the Star Wars films I recorded yesterday (thanks Sky). But unfortunately I cannot as duty calls, speaking of overthrowing the dark side, Jordi Gomez is keen to drag the Sith lords of Newcastle into the mix: “Anything can happen with these five teams so close together. There’s another team in there now with Newcastle and you want as many teams as possible in there who are fighting to stay in the league. We’re going into every game to pick up points and hopefully we can do that again at Everton on Saturday. Everyone keeps going, so you don’t know how many your points you’ll need. We just need to concentrate on ourselves, try to get as many points as we can and then we’ll see afterwards.”

“After the results elsewhere, I think it was a massive win for us. We’re still in the fight. The first thing was to get the three points against Southampton, and we got them, and now we’re ready to keep fighting. We know we need to give everything we have,” the midfielder added.

Elsewhere,  Dick Advocaat has echoed the Spaniard’s thoughts on dragging other teams into it: “It’s definitely important to keep pressure on the other teams. Burnley lost (on Saturday) and Queens Park Rangers lost, and we have made a difference between them and us. We have also got closer to the teams above us, and now maybe also Newcastle with 35 points and difficult games to come. They also have to play a team below us (QPR), so I think it will go on until the end.”

Finally, the man of the hour Danny Graham has praised Gomez’ bottle at the weekend: “Special credit has to go to Jordi because it can’t have been easy taking those penalties, but he looked ice cool and we got the job done. We need to stay focussed now and do what we have to do in training so we’re prepared for next weekend’s trip to Everton. We showed a lot of character because they levelled straight away and our captain – John O’Shea – had to come off, but we dealt with those set-backs very well and got the three points. We need to take all the positives from today’s performance and take them into next week’s trip to Everton.”

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ALS blog…
BY EVE SAYERS

The three points on Saturday have given our survival hopes a massive boost but alone, it is not enough and we must take that that form into our final four games.

It was a completely difference performance from the lads and they gave everything, Danny Graham in particular.

Being a season ticket holder in Leeds, I wasn't exactly thrilled about having to get five trains and a taxi back for the umpteenth time this season, especially considering our home form. Sunderland is an absolute arse to get to but what else would I spend my Saturdays doing?

Speaking to some Dutch Spurs fans in Central station who'd come over for the game, I realised that I didn't really have anything to complain about in terms of distance travelled. They were supporting us as they want to beat Southampton to Europe and they seemed really confident that Advocaat was a really good coach. I suppose Dick isn't too bad.

It was great to see Seb Larsson back in the starting eleven as we clearly missed him against Crystal Palace and Stoke.

The 20 seconds in which Graham made an immense tackle, roared on the crowd and then nearly scored were nothing short of amazing. And then when he won us the penalty, the man's a warrior. He didn't half take a boot to the face yet got straight back on his feet, what a guy.

I've been critical of Gomez in the past but he was under an awful of lot of pressure taking the penalty but nonetheless slotted it past old boy Davis to put us 1-0 up.

That's when the Sunderland we all know and love showed up and Southampton equalised within seconds, brilliant. To be fair to the lads, their heads didn't drop unlike we've seen previously.

Then spectacularly, when we got a second penalty, Gomez still kept his cool and put us ahead again. We did well to protect our lead this time, no thanks to Vergini who nearly gave all Sunderland fans and Pantilimon in particular a heart attack when he nearly assisted Alderweireld in the dying moments of the game but Pants was their to pull off his heroics.

Although Gomez and Pantilimon were crucial to the win, Danny Graham was the real hero. I've never seen anyone run as much as he did, he ran for every ball and gave it his absolute everything. His tackle really got the fans going and no-one deserves a goal more than him.

We need to use these three points as a catalyst for survival now. Ha'way the lads!

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Monday off…
Belief coursing through our veins

For you British lot have a good bank holiday, certainly easier to enjoy after that massive win, Lee Cattermole is happy that with that win we’ve dragged other teams back into it including the scum: “It’s absolutely no relevance that it’s Newcastle, we’ve done our jobs with them this season. But if they get dragged into it, that means there’s another team there. We saw the Leicester result before we went out, although that was a game where we weren’t really sure which way we wanted it to go. But it’s important that we focus on what we’re doing and if we play like we did against Southampton, we look dangerous. We’ve dragged some other teams into it now. Every game now we’ve got to look to pick up points from. We’re not writing off Arsenal and Chelsea. They’re going to be games where we go out on the pitch believing we can win. It’s been difficult, but we’re showing a lot of character, a lot of fight and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

“The point at Stoke was so big from a performance point of view. We left there with loads of confidence and we thought if we could start a game like that, we would be able to build on a point and we’ve done that. We’ve said ‘must-win’ in the past and I think that (Southampton) was one of them. The lads know the importance of what it means to stay in the league and I think it showed on the pitch. There were a couple of dodgy moments, but I think as a team, we were really solid, determined, dogged and that’s what it’s going to take,“ the midfielder added.

Meanwhile, Dick Advocaat has revealed how he could sense the lads’ determination for survival before the game even kicked off: “It started in the dressing room before the game – I could see the commitment with the way they were sitting and talking to each other. They were really up for it. They said they didn’t want to go down and if you don’t want to go down, they had to do it on Saturday and they were totally right. The second half at Stoke (a week earlier), I think, was the best football they’ve played against a good side. We could pressurise them, control it and create some chances. Saturday was different because there was pressure on both sides – we had to win to stay up and they had to win to keep playing for European football. For me, it was a great game to watch, exciting for everybody, but I was happy when the referee blew for it to be over.”

The Dutchman also explained: “As a manager, you can give a little bit tactically wise. But the players have to do it. We changed it a bit at half-time with (Jermain) Defoe a bit more down the middle and the penalty came from there as well. We still knew Southampton had the individual quality to score a goal, but we had to do it with the spirit. Until the end, we did OK. It was a real team performance from the goalkeeper until the end, I’m really proud of them.”

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the winning feeling…
running through my body

After the big fight at the Stadium of Light yesterday, a happy Sunday can follow due to a fantastic and much needed win. Following his Man of the Match performance yesterday, Danny Graham is adamant that he could be crucial to survival and thinks Sunderland will avoid the drop: "It was massive for me. It has been a tough couple of years here, I'm not going to lie about that, and I've been out on loan and in and out of the team. Hopefully today shows how committed I am to the cause and how committed I am to this football club. I only want what is best for everybody in the dressing room and everybody at the club. We’ve got a game in hand, we’ve got Leicester at home and Everton away next week and we need to be going into those games off the back of good performances so if we can do that I’m sure we’ll be fine. Towards the end of last season the boys went to Man City and should have won, went to Chelsea and won, went to Manchester United and won so we’ve got to hang on to that belief that we can go to those sorts of teams and pick up points. Certainly the home game coming up against Leicester in between them is vital, but we just need to take one game at a time at the minute, dust ourselves off, enjoy this win and focus on next weekend against Everton which is a massive game.”

Lee Cattermole has revealed that last years great escape is providing the players with motivation to push through the relegation battle: “"We've just got to keep going. We've done nothing yet and we just need to get through to the 24th of May and make sure we are still in this league. I've certainly learnt a lot from it [winning four out of five to stay up at the end of last season] and we've still got a lot of players in the dressing room who were in that position last year so we know exactly what it is all about and the importance of making sure we stay in the league. We've got four massive games left and as long as we keep focusing in training and believing, I think we look a good side."

Also, Dick Advocaat was proud of his players in their win against Southampton yesterday, but believes his initial assessments may have been wrong: “We have to believe in it. What is it -- five games we have played now? Seven points? There are still four to go. Everything is still open. We have still everything in our own hands, and that's the most important thing. That's the reason he is a goalkeeper. He had to save that ball after the first goal. Knowing the results from the other teams, it was really necessary to win. Today, it was a real team performance. They worked so hard to get this result and in the end, I think we also deserved it. We created enough chances to make the decision quicker but against a team like Southampton with very good players, they can always score out of nothing. They worked so hard, the players. But I was really happy when the final whistle came. We have got seven points, so I can go. That's what I said, if we get six or seven points, that will be enough. But it's not enough, unfortunately."

Finally, Advocaat described Danny Graham as ‘dangerous’ in their victory on Saturday: “Like the other players, he works so hard and he was dangerous when he got the ball. He protected it well and the other players could do something with what he did. That’s why we created something. We had four or five possibilities against a team who is defensively very strong. I was hoping he was capable of those sort of performances and he did that.”

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ALS BLOG…
By Josh Carr

What a weird feeling. We won a match. And what a huge win it was. With Aston Villa beating Everton 3-2, anything but a win could have seen us slip away from the teams above.

I never thought I’d live to see the day where Danny Graham was man of the match and would have the whole of the South Stand on their feet singing his name. It was Graham who won the penalty after Jose Fonte nearly took off his head with a high boot. Surprisingly, there was no yellow card. Jordi Gomez, who has been reasonably impressive of recent, slotted home to make it 1-0.

But it wouldn’t be Sunderland without one calamitous error per game and this one ultimately ended in a goal just one minute later. Fonte’s punt up field didn’t look worrying at all until Coates and Pantilimon collided with each other leaving Sadio Mane to place the ball in the net.

That goal seemed to kill the atmosphere for the remainder of the first half. Chances came and went including all three strikers failing to put the ball in the net during a goalmouth scramble. I was beginning to think it wasn’t going to be our day.

But a second half penalty, which, again, was scored by Jordi Gomez gave us a one goal and one man-advantage for the final 35 minutes plus stoppage time. This was probably one of the most nerve-racking half hours of this season. Every supporter in the stadium knew the importance of a win and as the minutes ticked by heads were in hands, nails were being bitten to their roots and war cries were being yelled throughout the SOL. Despite this, we decided to sit deeper and deeper as we always seem to do when we have a lead.

Luckily we held out mainly due to an incredible save from Pantilimon in the final seconds. A save that could keep us in the Premier League. You could see the passion Costel has for Sunderland (and goalkeeping itself) by the way he celebrated his save. I’m not too sure what Vergini was attempting in the build up to the goal mind.

Without meaning to put a negative spin on this but there were a lot of sloppy errors today. Thank god we made it through. Connor Wickham is the only footballer I know who is 6ft 3in but jumps at 5ft 9in; there were far too many misplaced passes and Jermain Defoe needs to go back to Toronto and find his first touch that he left there.

Back to the positives. Jordi Gomez is looking a lot more comfortable in the side, Danny Graham appears to be getting nearer and nearer to his first goal and, most importantly, we won a game.

If we can get four points from Everton and Leicester I think we’ll be safe. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the Mags lost their last three games and got relegated? John Carver, the gift that keeps on giving. Just listen to his post match interview this week.

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post southampton craic…
REACTION

Sunderland won 2-1 at home to Southampton and reignited the tiny dithering flickering flame of hope that exists in all of us that we may in fact beat the drop this season. Two penalties from Jordi Gomez either side of the half was enough to see off the travelling Saints who equalised but a minute after our first goal. The sending off for Southampton was enough to knock the wind out of them and we capitalised by grinding out the victory. Class.

Dick Advocaat was understated in his post-match celebrations, fully aware that it will take a lot more to secure our status in the league. He said: "We did really well. The fighting was great. We could play better but in the circumstances I'm happy. We still have everything in our own hands and that is the important thing."

Danny Graham was complimentary of goalscorer Jordi Gomez after the match, hailing the player's nerve to bury two vital penalties. Graham said: "We got the penalties but Jordi had to put them away under massive pressure. Costel pulled us out at the end with a great reaction save. We deserved the points. We can take a lot of positives from this performance and move on. We’re delighted but now we need to get back to training tomorrow and prepare for next week's game."

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On the Buses…
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Our trading hours are as follows: Monday-Friday 9.30am to 5.30pm all year round. On weekend matchdays we open five hours before the match starts and close at kick off. We are also open for 30 mins after the match finishes. For midweek home games, we open at 9am and close at kick off. Please feel free to call 0191 565 4422, pop into our shop, or click here to go straight to our on-line shop and peruse our wares.

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