This Saturday is pretty simple for Sunderland fans. Beat Portsmouth and they have a chance of edging past Barnsley and sneaking promotion via the automatics, fail to beat the side that bested them at Wembley and it’s the play-offs. The Mackems are in a tough spot, and this game is the biggest one they’ve had for a number of years.
Jack Ross has done superbly well to get this Black Cats side playing the football they are, but it’s still tough for the Wearside outfit as they continue to fight for promotion. Should they find themselves playing League One football next season then the whole 2018/19 campaign will have been a waste, and they can’t afford many more slip-ups as they aim to return to where they belong.
If Sunderland can avenge their Checkatrade Trophy final defeat against Portsmouth by winning tomorrow then they will have well and truly overcome their Wembley heartbreak. At the start of the season, if you’d have asked a Mackem whether they’d rather win the Checkatrade Trophy or win promotion the answer would have been conclusive, although you can’t bemoan a Wembley final.
The next step for the Black Cats is to stop drawing games, with just three left they can settle for no less than nine points. The race at the top of the table in League One is incredible. Luton look destined to smash it and win the title whilst Barnsley, Pompey and the Mackems battle it out for the other promotion place. Should Portsmouth win on Saturday, though, Sunderland’s chances of automatics go out of the window.
It won’t be easy from here for Sunderland, and the fact that they could only draw at Peterborough despite taking the lead in the 87th minute may prove to be very costly. Had they managed to hold on then they’d currently be above Portsmouth on goal difference and would have a chance to rise to 2nd with a win, but now that game against the 3rd placed side has even more relevance as a loss will see them consigned to the play-offs.
Black Cats, how nervous are you right now? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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