No let up for Cattermole
Published 03/05/2015 | 13:36
Lee Cattermole has warned Sunderland they have done nothing yet despite giving themselves a chance of a second great escape.
The Black Cats, who dragged themselves out of Barclays Premier League relegation trouble against all the odds 12 months ago, set up the opportunity to repeat the feat with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Southampton at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
It was just the club's second win in 11 attempts in the league, but while it left them only a point adrift of safety - although with an inferior goal difference to the two sides immediately above them, Leicester and Hull - they remain inside the bottom three and face a taxing run-in.
For that reason, midfielder Cattermole will allow no-one within the dressing room to let up as preparations start for next weekend's difficult trip to Everton.
He said: "No chance. We are still in the bottom three. That could work in our favour, just seeing that all week. The results in the last two weeks have just shown the teams down there seem to produce performances.
"We have got to keep doing that and keep matching what everyone else is doing, just focusing on ourselves and setting ourselves a target and make sure we get there, and then look to push on."
Sunderland had little option but to win on Saturday after seeing Leicester demolish imploding arch-rivals Newcastle in the early kick-off, and Aston Villa's victory over Everton eased them further clear of the drop zone.
Their fate remains in their own hands, but with the final two fixtures involving trips to Arsenal and Chelsea, the Black Cats know there is little margin for error, and Cattermole admits the gravity of the situation is never far from his thoughts.
He said: "I'd be lying if I said I've been relaxed all week. I'm sat there and there are moments when you are just watching TV and you find yourself just thinking, thinking about football and the possibilities, what could happen.
"We need to make sure the bad possibilities don't come around, make sure we keep this club in the league and then look to improve."
Victory came courtesy of a gutsy performance on an eventful afternoon which saw the home side gain the lead, throw it away and then edge home, if only just.
If Jordi Gomez, who converted 21st and 55th-minute penalties, claimed the headlines, his contribution was founded on the efforts of forgotten man Danny Graham.
The striker made just his 27th appearance for the club he joined in January 2013 - and he is still awaiting his first goal - but it was he who prompted Jose Fonte into the rash challenge which resulted in the first spot-kick, and his run and pass to Jermain Defoe which saw James Ward-Prowse bundle the former Tottenham man to the ground for the second, an offence which cost the midfielder a red card.
In the meantime, Sunderland keeper Costel Pantilimon had spilled the ball at the feet of Sadio Mane after colliding with team-mates Sebastian Coates and John O'Shea to hand the visitors an equaliser, but he redeemed himself four minutes into injury-time with a point-blank save from Toby Alderweireld.
Delighted head coach Dick Advocaat said: "Still we have everything in our own hands. Newcastle have come a little bit closer now, so they have to win their other games as well, otherwise it will be very difficult for them.
"They also have to play against one of the bottom clubs, so I think it will be exciting until the last day, maybe."
It proved a frustrating day for Saints counterpart Ronald Koeman, who was in no mood to blame referee Mike Jones for defeat.
Asked about the penalty decisions, he said: "I don't know, I have to see them back. But maybe the first one is an easily-given one. The second, I don't know.
"But it's so easy to talk about the referee's decisions. We made those kind of mistakes to give them the chances to have that kind of situation in our box."