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Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship

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A sensational week for Sunderland ends on a devastating note!

A hectic week for the club ended with Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City, but as Finlay Anderson writes, seven points from a possible nine definitely isn’t the worst outcome.

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A week is often a long time in football, they say.

Sunderland began their last one sitting in 9th position, and end it sitting pretty in the play-off spots in 5th. So, overall, it’s been a rather productive week, as our climb of the table has continued.

But, our frustration at Saturday’s loss of two points just shows how far this group of players have progressed in such a short space of time.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Going into the game against Bristol City, it had been one of those weeks where our playoff hopes have turned into a distinct possibility.

Against Reading we had to dig deep in a battle against their time-wasting antics but it proved to be a massive win on home turf, whilst on Tuesday night we cashed in on Neil Critchley’s struggles at QPR with a clinical three-nil victory - and to be honest, it could have been more.

Here, on this wet Saturday afternoon, it was to be a case of missed chances that we were ultimately left to rue, as Bristol City broke their penalty duck by converting their first spot-kick in 469 days.

Yet, it was a performance that was to be admired from the Sunderland faithful. For most of the contest, despite Bristol City looking to frustrate us, we managed to maintain our playing game and found our reward through an absolutely superb Jack Clarke strike.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

For all Clarke can receive criticism from fans for holding onto the ball for too long and the ball seemingly always being attached to his feet, he is someone that can really catch the eye - and with three goals in his last two matches now, form could be pivotal in his own momentum that’s building for him.

In truth, it’s what the game needed: a spark that ignited the contest and forced Bristol City to be a little more open in their approach. It was that approach that gave Roberts, Amad and Clarke greater freedom in the forward areas, and Nigel Pearson’s side should have been put to bed.

However, it was one of those days where we just didn’t do enough to claim all three points. It feels frustrating, yes, but after an already-impressive week it’s not the worst ending, and it’s not the worst position to be in.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With all three points we could have potentially finished the day in 4th with Luton’s defeat to Burnley, but wins for Millwall and Blackburn means that the gap between 4th and 11th is only a mere six points, which, in previous Championship years, is such a minor margin.

Sunderland could potentially end the weekend of Championship football in sixth place with a Watford win at home to West Brom on Monday night, but for the club, this is by far good enough.

Any playoff hopes are still alive and kicking; we can dare to dream just a little, but there are going to be some hiccups along the way, and Saturday was a minor one.

Frustrating, yes. A bit gutting, yes. In a battle with relegation, no.

Sunderland v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Martin Swinney/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

For our targets set internally back in August the team is ticking every box that will have been set by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Kristjaan Speakman, albeit to a different head coach of the team.

So, it’s a credit to the mentality that Tony Mowbray has instilled within this side that these two points dropped were left with disappointment amongst the fanbase.

After years of dread and reluctance it’s nice to be watching Sunderland playing some good football, and even if the result wasn’t what we all wanted on Saturday, the performance and typical quality of a Tony Mowbray Sunderland side was there.

At the end of a physically-demanding week, seven points out of a possible nine is definitely not the worst outcome for this team. After 32 matches, we are still in the playoff hunt, and it feels good.


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