Tuesday night’s trip to Rotherham was quite a bitter pill to swallow for Sunderland.
The 2-1 defeat felt like a kick in the teeth and an example of how everything we’ve worked so hard to build this season can come unstuck.
The loss came on the back of one of our worst performances this season, with the players looking leggy and somewhat short of ideas. There were some positives to take, but overall it was a night to forget.
In the recent past, losing matches was a source of annoyance rather than genuine frustration. Under Tony Mowbray, however, defeats have hurt more because of the fact that we’ve experienced more good times than bad.
The loss at Rotherham was our first for over a month and our first on the road since October. This season, we’ve certainly gone away to better sides and left with hard-fought points and classy performances.
For one reason or another, we never got going in South Yorkshire and ultimately fell short against a side who were bang out of form.
If we’d looked completely toothless all night, the concerns would’ve been multiplied. However, we created plenty of chances without being able to finish them all.
Losing to a side involved in a relegation scrap is always poor, but we certainly didn’t help ourselves against the Millers.
Uncharacteristically sluggish defending gave us an uphill task even after Joe Geldhart bagged his first goal for the Lads, and considering how well we’ve played at points this season, this defeat was particularly hard to swallow.
Although defeats under Mowbray feel more pronounced, our new approach to football makes for a positive outlook for the remainder of the season. We’ve bounced back from defeats before, and we’ll do it again.
This is why, despite feeling more frustrated by a defeat than normal, I’ve got full confidence in Mogga and the lads to put things straight.
Fatigue is starting to creep in, and that certainly contributed to the leggy displays against Bristol City and Rotherham.
Saturday’s trip to Coventry will be tough, but we know that we can give any side in this league a tough time. Getting back on track will be important in keeping our playoff hopes alive- something that few of us could’ve predicted before the season started.
Tuesday night simply needs to represent a blip, and I’ve got plenty of confidence that it will.
Learning from the mistakes made in midweek will be a significant step forward for this group of players.