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ITHICS Fanzine: “Was Sunderland’s atmosphere good enough at Wembley?”

Whilst many supporters have looked to take the positives from Sunderland’s cup final failure last weekend, Mark Egan of ITHICS Fanzine can’t help but feel annoyed by watching us lose yet another game at Wembley stadium.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I didn’t think I’d ever care about the Checkatrade but I obviously did because I had bruises on both legs on Monday morning. When Portsmouth equalised I was furious and repeatedly kicked my seat, and the seat won.

Some of my emotion was due to what happened during the game. Totally dominant in the first half, we should have buried Portsmouth and gone in to half-time two or three goals up. It’s one of the stories of our season that during periods of dominance we rarely capitalise.

Inevitably, Portsmouth improved in the second half and threw everything at us.

Frustratingly, we had no response. I don’t like criticising substitutions because they often reflect hidden factors, such as players carrying injuries or being ill on the day. However, it was baffling to see Grigg replaced by Max Power rather than Wyke. The change sent a signal to Portsmouth that we were content to cling on.

Perhaps if we had survived we would have congratulated Jack Ross for finding a way of regaining the initiative in midfield and killing the game. In fact, we looked better when Wyke came on: he’s a player who needs to feature in the run-in.

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However, I think my main feeling was one of utter annoyance and seeing yet another defeat at Wembley.

That’s five in five for me, a run stretching back 29 years. Not as woeful as 1990, not as gutting as 1992, not as exhausting as 1998 and not as predictable as 2014, but defeat nevertheless.

People have spoken to me about what a great game it was but frankly I don’t care. I just want to see us win at Wembley, not be the footnote to someone else’s history.

At times the atmosphere was brilliant, with both sides making noise and a striking contrast in colour. However, I think we could have done more to lift the team in the second half.

There were times when I felt we needed someone to get a song going, but it wasn’t happening. There’s a risk of the rose-tinted glasses going on here, but when I was younger there were groups of fans who spent the whole game trying to get chants going so, unless we were 3-0 down, there was always a song on the go, which sometimes got taken up by the whole crowd.

We seem to have lost that and I sometimes see more mad singing in the concourse over beers at half-time than in the ground.

I also wondered if the events of the night before began to take their toll during the periods in the second half when Portsmouth on top, with a collective hangover descending on our end.

Everyone loves a Wembley trip and a big night out in London, but the main focus has to be on winning at Wembley. I hope next time we do.

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