Sunderland’s relegation to League One has finally been confirmed and it was perhaps achieved in the most Sunderland way possible.
This week I’d had a recurrent nightmare of Darren Bent playing his part in our relegation. It was the kind of goal which wasn’t special but would cause monumental damage. The way reality played out in almost identical fashion was sickening.
It was surprising to see Bent start on the bench, but you just knew that he’d be thrown into the deep end should things be going wrong for the Brewers. As soon as he came on a little part of me thought that he’d have his moment to get back at the thousands of fans booing him, he didn’t have to wait too long for this. He was quickest to react to a rebound and the ball seemed to take an eternity to cross the line, but in an instant all of our hard work from the first half had come undone.
Amazingly, the defeat to Burton at the SoL was our fourth games in a row where Sunderland surrendered a lead. If we’d kept the lead in these games, our points tally would be on 43 and we’d be sitting on the right side of the dotted line. We could have been on the verge of safety and on a phenomenal run, but to be honest all of that means nothing now.
I actually felt very sorry for Jason Steele. He stepped up to the mark, did everything which was asked of him but yet still ended up having to pick the ball out of the net twice. He made some smart saves, but a back four, which has leaked goals all season, didn’t help out their recalled keeper whatsoever. Burton’s winner was very well taken, but Liam Boyce shouldn’t have been able to pick his spot.
Paddy McNair continued to show how he is a very good player. Most of our attacks went through him and he deserved his classy goal, Ashley Fletcher did very well to get the ball back to the Irishman and his goal should have ended up being a winner but that’s just too hard for Sunderland to do this season.
With League One football in store for us next season, all that’s left is to put in performances in the final two matches which could give fans hope for the future. Who knows, now that the pressure has been lifted we might finally do this. Yet picking up points against Fulham and Wolves would do nothing more than add to a measly total which has sentenced us to a second straight relegation.