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Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship

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Through Hull & high water – Sunderland’s season kicked up a gear after bizarre Good Friday draw

The carnage and chaos of the 4-4 draw against Hull was a rollercoaster - and it looks to be a match that led to a change in attitude for Sunderland.

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

Walking away from the SoL on Good Friday were thousands of Sunderland fans who felt like we’d just been kicked in the teeth. A late, late leveller from the penalty spot broke Mackem hearts and rounded off an eight-goal thriller in front of the Sky cameras. I didn’t want to say it too loud, but for me, the dropping of those two points was the nail in the coffin of our playoff hopes.

It seemed fitting that our home record would lead to this doubt, and seven wins out of 23 is definitely something that needs to be addressed in the near future, however for now we can not worry too much about that.

But this Hull match felt as though we were going to fall short. The result left us six points adrift of the playoffs with six games left.

Getting so close to a win and having it ripped away in the dying seconds left many of us with a sense of anguish. The match was one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen, but the outcome was hard to swallow. Moving on from this match quickly was the only way we were going to put the disappointment behind us.

Preston North End v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

The 4-4 draw took a while to process, but the way we’ve managed to keep on track has been commendable. Back-to-back wins in the next two games were the perfect tonic for this, and it set us off on a run that has propelled us into the playoffs.

From our last six games, we picked up 14 points, however, it was our strength away from home that really paid dividends.

During the run-in, we ended with three straight wins on the road which added to what was a very useful five away matches unbeaten. After walking away from the SoL on Friday, the idea that we wouldn’t lose again this season seems weirdly far away. How little I knew.

The match against Hull is, fortunately, one that hasn’t quite buckled our season as much as it may have felt like it would back at Easter. It has fortunately ended with our well-earned achievement of a place in the playoffs - and it feels as though fate has always just about been on our side.

Cardiff City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images

The Hull match felt as though it was two points dropped at the time but, with hindsight, if we didn’t grab one of the four goals and lost with a 96th-minute goal we wouldn’t be talking about a playoff semi-final coming up. The same can be said about Patrick Robert’s late goal in the 2-2 draw with Watford. Another foot higher or lower that ball doesn’t go in and we miss out on the top six.

The way in which we shifted up a gear heading into the run-in has given us important momentum. In the games we haven’t won since Hull, we’ve at least made sure we haven’t lost. Keeping within touching distance of the teams above us was vital and, when it came to the all-important final day, this brilliant crop of players held their nerve to get the job done.


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