Yesterday’s clash at London Road was, arguably, the biggest game of our season so far - and heading into the match, Peterborough United had won their previous two league games, including a terrific 7-0 win over Accrington Stanley.
There was some hope for the Black Cats though, as Posh had only won two of their last 7 prior encounters with Sunderland - drawing 2 and losing 7. It was also an opportunity for us to do the double over them for the first time since the 1993/1994 season.
However, the biggest incentive was definitely the idea that a win would allow Sunderland to climb into the automatic promotion places for the first time since April 2019.
The big question that most of us pondered on, was “would the Lads handle the pressure?”
Lee Johnson made three changes from the side that beat Oxford United 3-1 on Good Friday - Leadbitter, Winchester and Stewart replaced McLaughlin, Scowen and Gooch. Personally, I was pleased with these changes as it meant that Charlie Wyke had some support in the attack, and Ross Stewart’s physicality could definitely cause the Peterborough defence some issues. Another positive was the fact that Denver Hume returned to the bench, having had a lengthy absence through injury.
However, there was no Chris Maguire in the matchday squad.
Darren Ferguson’s biggest asset would certainly be his talisman, Jonson Clarke-Harris. Their number nine has been lethal this season, netting an astounding twenty-six goals. Another danger man would be Sammie Szmodics, who actually worked under Lee Johnson during his stint at Bristol City. Posh occupied second place heading into the game, but both teams had games in hand on the league leaders Hull City.
The general consensus seemed to be that a draw would suffice and I definitely fit into that category of thinking- we could not afford to lose a six pointer, especially at this stage of the season.
I thought initially that Sunderland dominated possession, and looked confident on the ball. Aiden McGeady had his effort cleared off the line by Mark Beevers, a bright start from us. Lee Burge’s first involvement was a routine save when Louis Reed tried his luck from twenty-five yards. Another opportunity fell when Sammie Szmodics found himself in acres of space inside the Sunderland penalty area but Luke O’Nien did well to block his attempted effort.
Lee Burge was called to action again to prevent Luke O’Nien from converting into his own goal, whilst attempting to deal with a troublesome delivery.
Our first real opportunity of the second half came from a set-piece, with Aiden McGeady’s free-kick nestling into the side-netting. Peterborough began to look increasingly promising following their double change, and not long after, the opening goal did arrive - they worked the attack well, feeding the ball through to the unmarked Dembele, who slotted home comfortably.
Just ten minutes remained when Aiden McGeady found a moment of magic. His free kick went up and over the wall, curling into the back of the net to level the score at 1-1. And then, with only a few minutes remaining, the lads’ almost went ahead - the ball deflected off Kent before hitting the post and trickling behind for a corner kick.
That was all the action the match had in store, ending all square at 1-1.
I would definitely label that result as one point gained rather than two points dropped. This draw extends our unbeaten run to an impressive twelve games. Promotion is still very much in our own hands, and also extremely achievable.
It was definitely a hard-earned point, but one that we desperately needed.
It’s looking increasingly like a three horse race at the top of the table, with ourselves, Hull and Posh darting towards the automatic promotion places - and we only have eight games left to play.
There’s no time to rest as, next up, the Lads host a Charlton Athletic side this Saturday who themselves are in decent form - and as each game plays a major role in our bid for promotion to the Championship, it’s another important task ahead, and another massive opportunity to nab three much-needed points.
Interesting times indeed!