Andrew Smithson says…
Love Sunderland, me!
That was a horrible game to watch, but the effort and commitment was exactly what I want to see from Sunderland. The Lads put everything into it, and nights like that are what following this club is all about. I’m buzzing!
Neil loves Sunderland, too
Alex Neil’s reaction to our goal was brilliant.
He is doing a great job so far, and whilst it is still early days, I wonder if the club is now starting to get under his skin? I actually like the fact he is quite standoffish in interviews, because it suggests that he is highly focused on the task at hand, but seeing him allowing himself that release for a moment and celebrating like a fan shows a different side of him.
It is obvious that the narrative around the final is going to be framed around our previous playoff record.
It is already being brought up in interviews, and could plant a negative seed. Hopefully though, the Lads involved in the Papa John’s final last year can utilise their experience of winning at Wembley, and help to keep everyone on track.
A ropey few minutes
We looked fairly comfortable before Sheffield Wednesday levelled the tie, and then looked a little lost for a few moments.
You are always going to experience periods in games where the opposition are on top and, to be fair, we did the right things to try and disrupt that, but I must admit I was panicking.
Our winning goal then came from nowhere, but it was a cracker, so all’s well that ends well. Now on to Wembley!
Ant Waterson says…
Tonight we finally saw what Clarke can bring to the table.
In the second half he was comfortably the best player on the pitch, with some amazing runs and a brilliant assist for Roberts to finish to send the Sunderland crowd mental.
Welcome to the party, son!
Wright and Batth
Over the two legs, Wright was an absolute colossus. He never lost a header during the two games, and although he took a nasty knock early on, he still stuck his head in where it hurts.
Wright is a true warrior and is developing a terrific partnership with Batth who was sensational tonight. Wycombe might try and bully us at Wembley but I would be confident of these two passing the test.
Sheffield Wednesday might have sold out Hillsborough tonight but it was our fans you could hear. Selling out forty four thousand in the first leg and singing all night tonight. The media can knock us all they want, we are brilliant.
Once again Neil has proved his weight in gold for us. One defeat in seventeen now. I'm sure I wasn't alone amongst other fans screaming for him to make changes, but Neil knew we were going to get a chance and we did. Please tie this man down to a contract. He is the manager we have been looking for for years.
Kelvin Beattie says…
One game at a time
Our manager has plotted a pragmatic and effective course since arriving. He has been clear from the get-go that the next result is what he and the team are working for. His team selection for this 2nd away leg was brave. To resist changing it when we went a goal down was nothing short of inspired.
Get a bit of Bailey and Gooch
Players who have come in for quite a bit of stick from the Roker hordes have really run into a rich vein of form. Is it a coincidence that this has run almost parallel to Alex Neil’s arrival? Wright looks like a new man, his injuries behind him and his playing responsibilities clear - he very much deserved his man of the match award. Gooch has raised his game and displayed not only his versatility but a real appetite for the fight. I am particularly pleased for both these Lads.
What do I know?
Just prior to our goal, I informed my exhausted co-watchers that Baatth was a fair defender, but his distribution was lacking, also that Clarke and Roberts should be subbed as they both looked done! Thank the Lord I am not the head coach!
A poor record in the playoffs!
If you were unaware of it, Sunderland have a very poor record in the playoffs and I would love a fiver for every time this gets talked up in the national media. I counted six references to this in the Sky post-match programme. Let's hope the national media platforms can move on from this banal line of commentary, or it's going to be a long two weeks!