Phase One was accomplished midweek, when that single point was enough to move us beyond reach of Peterborough, the only team outside the top six with a chance (and the slimmest of chances at that) to pass us.
Phase two will be much more difficult as just about every team we play has something to go for and is running into form, as Coventry epitomised today.
Malcolm will be doing tomorrow’s match report, which I’m sure will be riveting reading. Until it arrives you’ll have to make do with Pete Sixsmith’s seven word post-game missive.
Monsieur Salut adds: social media is awash with angry, anguished messages about how wretched Sunderland’s defending was. You probably had to be there to appreciate just how bad, though Barnes and Benno gave a pretty good idea. Losing 5-4 in a Wembley penalty shootout is unfortunate; for a team chasing promotion to do so at home in a massively important game seems an insult to all but 2,600 or so of the 36,000 who turned up. Baldwin and Flanagan may wish to avoid reading Malcolm’s full appraisal..
John McCormick writes: Pete Sixsmith makes reference to events at and around Coventry City FC in this piece. The Coventry Telegraph is a good source of information and includes a countdown clock which will tell you how long it will be until CCFC play their last game at the Ricoh – and maybe in the EFL – unless something changes. At the time of writing it’s a little over two weeks.
No supporter anywhere deserves that.
Laurie Kilpatrick is an innocent man. He wasn’t even an egg, as one of my daughters used to say, on the infamous night that Jimmy Hill – er – orchestrated the perfect finish to Coventry City’s final game of the season, a match delayed by congestion against Bristol City: making sure the players of both sides, then drawing 2-2, knew Sunderland had lost at Everton. It was the only combination of results that would send us down and keep both of them up and they played out the game without further effort.
Laurie, a London-based City fan who is the man behind The Lonely Season blog, sees the funny side of Sunderland supporters’ collective long memory. And with his answers to our questions, he upholds the high standards of our League One Who are You? interviews …
When you are in sight of an automatic promotion place, three successive home games might appear something of a gift. But nerves play a part, too, and often enough this season Sunderland have suffered less in this respect on their travels than at the Stadium of Light, says Monsieur Salut.
The first of that trio of ties, of course, is behind us. A jittery performance against Burton Albion, described by Pete Sixsmith as a team looking tired up against “sprightly’ opponents, nevertheless yielded the point that took us second top.
Sunderland under Jack Ross continue to show a welcome defiance to the idea of being defeated. And still we have a game in hand over the side we displaced, Barnsley.
Dropping two points left it a lot less likely that we can catch Luton at the top. But the run-in remains in our hands and we need only match Barnsley’s results to be be sure of finishing above them while naturally keeping an eye on what Charlton and Portsmouth are up to.
So next up is Coventry City.
Even though today’s draw does move us into second, is the result good enough? There will be naysayers but, let’s not forget, this was not our strongest side and it was our fourth game in how many days? Surely we’d have taken this position a month ago, wouldn’t we?
Pete Sixsmith’s report will be here tomorrow. For now, here’s a quick seven word taste of what is to come:
Monsieur Salut writes: Burton Albion are a club with lots of virtues but the size of the fanbase is not among them, unless small is beautiful. Finding a Who are You? interview volunteer who isn’t the one we had before, and also the one before that, is not easy. Hence, our latest cap-in-hand approach to the admirable Dave Child*, who combines home-and-away support with a mini-career as a radio pundit on all things Burton Albion and also the quality of football ground pies.
It is no hardship to turn to Dave once more for a look at the season our two clubs have had in the third tier after going down together a year ago. And he will collect a Salut! Sunderland mug in honour of of his services to this series …
Towards the end of last season, not quite a year ago so not at the very end, Burton Albion visited the Stadium of Light, won 2-1 and sent Sunderland down for the second successive season.
The fact that most of us were already resigned to relegation made it little easier to stomach and the Netflix documentary Sunderland Til I Die captured the misery in all its raw intensity.
Monsieur Salut writes: we had to bounce back from Wembley and we did, in some style as you’ll know if you were there or have read Pete Sixmsith’s rousing account of our 3-0 win.
Now another Lancashire test awaits. We need to do something similar at Rochdale on Saturday. Over to Ian Wright*, our Dale stalwart, with answers to Salut! Sunderland‘s questions. Even before the win at Stanley, he reckoned we should have enough quality to overcome any post-Wembley doldrums….
Job done at Accrington Stanley and our old friend Eric Bower won Guess the Score, correctly going for a 3-0 win to get us swiftly over any Wembley blues, or Blues for that matter.
John McCormick writes: put yourself in my place.
0-2 up away from home, with 15 minutes left. If Accrington score and we win 2-1 your “guess the score” is correct and you win a shirt. Do you want Accy to score?
It took me less than a minute.
“sod it” I thought “get a third”
And we did, a minute later. So I thought “get a fourth, and a fifth. Haway the lads!” But we didn’t. So much for the power of positive thinking.
Pete Sixsmith’s report will be here tomorrow. Until then you’ll have to make do with the knowledge that this win did us a lot of good just when we needed it, and very positive seven word post-whistle text.