Sunderland April Round-Up: A Disappointing Month Ends in Club Facing Play-Offs
It was a disappointing and frustrating month for all connected to Sunderland. Early form in April suggested the Black Cats could gain automatic promotion. However, in typical Sunderland style, they proceeded to do things the hard way. Here is a look back at the month in the Sunderland April round-up.
Sunderland April Round-Up
More Failures in Being Unable to Keep a Lead
For much of the season, Sunderland have struggled to keep goals out. April proved to be no different. Five goals were conceded at home to Coventry City and three leads were lost in three consecutive games. The Black Cats are also capable of scoring; however, their inability to keep a clean sheet has hindered them for most of the season.
After their failure to hang onto a home lead against Portsmouth, conceding a goal in added time at Peterborough United and losing to a late goal at Fleetwood Town, Sunderland must face the play-offs. Black Cats fans have endured the stresses of these games several times.
Semi-finals have given them some great memories against the likes of rivals Newcastle United and an unforgettable night against Sheffield United. However, for every good memory, there are just as many bad ones. Who they will face in the semi-finals is yet to be decided. Fans will be hoping for another trip to Wembley; however, they have been there twice in play-off finals and lost both. Time for a change?
Jack Ross Not Happy
At the end of the month, manager Jack Ross had appeared to have had enough of sugarcoating his team. Results have not been good enough and the goals conceded have been poor.
He said: “Every single player should have ambitions to play in at least one higher league. I’m the same as a manager. The reality is they need to do certain things better. It is a time for not shying away from that. It might be that you find about the ones prepared to stand up.”
Accrington Stanley (A) W 3-0
The Sunderland April round-up of matches begins at Accrington. It was just days after their Wembley disappointment in the EFL Trophy final. A comfortable victory thanks to goals from Aiden McGeady, Will Grigg and Kazaiah Sterling put Sunderland into third place in the table.
Rochdale (A) W 2-1
A second win in less than a week since Wembley had fans dreaming of automatic promotion. This was no easy game though. The Black Cats battled back from a goal behind to secure three points. Charlie Wyke equalised for the visitors ten minutes into the second half. With just two minutes remaining, substitute George Honeyman grabbed the winner.
Burton Albion (H) D 1-1
After two away wins, Sunderland faced Burton Albion at the Stadium of Light. It was a frustrating night for fans as they saw their side having to settle for a point. Albion took the lead on 19 minutes but Jack Baldwin equalised soon after. Both sides had chances to win in what was an even game. The point took the home side up to second in the table.
Coventry City (H) L 5-4
Sunderland were still unbeaten at home when Coventry City arrived at the Stadium of Light. The run would end in chaotic fashion. Six goals were shared between the sides in an almost unbelievable end to end the first half. The second half saw a further three goals; however, the Sky Blues of Coventry came out on top. The result was a blow to Sunderland who slipped out of the automatic promotion places.
Doncaster Rovers (H) W 2-0
A return to winning ways gave hope back to fans. Sunderland dominated large spells of the game and two first-half goals sealed the win. Lewis Morgan struck an early goal and Charlie Wyke extended the lead 25 minutes later. The victory put the Black Cats back in the race for promotion; however, hopes would soon be dashed.
Peterborough (A) D 1-1
Sunderland went into this game needing three points to keep their promotion dreams alive. They so nearly got it too. However, their inability to hold onto a lead came back to haunt them. A Max Power strike on 87 minutes looked to have secured the three points; however, Peterborough struck in added time to take any automatic promotion hopes out of the hands of the Black Cats.
Portsmouth (H) D 1-1
Over 40,000 fans attended this game clinging onto slim hopes of avoiding the play-offs. Sunderland began well and got their reward early on when defender Tom Flanagan headed in. The home side continued to dominate; however, a controversial equaliser gave Portsmouth a share of the points. The ball appeared to go out of play just before the goal but the referee waved play on. The result gave the advantage in the promotion race back to Barnsley in second place.
Fleetwood (A) L 2-1
All hopes of automatic promotion were lost on a disappointing night at Fleetwood. It was a game of two halves. Sunderland dominated the first and took the lead through Lee Cattermole. Unfortunately, they could not turn their dominance into more goals. Fleetwood were the better side in the second half. The equaliser came in the 73rd minute and although Sunderland rallied, it was Fleetwood who would secure the points with an added time winner.