Dear Roker Report,
After the game at Wembley I was concerned that extra time and penalties would take it out of the players so much so that eight games in April to define our season would be a bridge too far.
I’ve seen the Wembley result referred to as heartache. I wouldn’t say I felt heartache, more like disappointment, frustration, our inability to get any grip on the game in the second half was torture, especially after being so dominant in the first forty five. But, although I wanted to see them win at Wembley, I was always more concerned with the final run in.
Another season in this division would be more heartbreaking for me than a defeat in the Checkatrade Trophy final would ever be.
So last night’s game was massive, just three days on from Wembley, players both physically and mentally tired - how would they get through it on a pitch, (described by Joey Barton as, “a shambles”), that is a far cry from the hallowed turf of Wembley?
With ease was the answer, and in the most untypical Sunderland way, they cruised to victory, for the most part.
Last night’s result brought me more joy than winning the EFL Trophy ever would have. The team sent out a message to the likes of Barnsley, a message that we are fighting until the end to get that last automatic promotion spot.
It’s still a big ask with all these games but I think this squad is more than capable. So now more than ever everyone needs to get behind the team. Forty thousand made it to London so they can easily make it to the SOL for the more important games.
Keep the Faith.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: Fair points Dom. I try not to look back too much - we can only impact what happens in the future now, and that has to be the key to our success this season.
It was hugely important that the players showed they’re over the defeat at Wembley last night, but now that’s out of the way we must forget about it. Rochdale are scrapping for their lives at the bottom and are unbeaten in four, so we can’t take them lightly or allow ourselves to think too much about losing at Wembley.
Winning on Saturday keeps up the pressure on Barnsley regardless of what result they get at Burton - they’ll be looking over their shoulders at us, knowing that whilst we too have injury problems we also have an incredibly strong squad for this level.
Five changes were made last night and we actually looked better!