Sunderland sealed a trip to Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final to face Portsmouth with a comfortable win over Bristol Rovers. Will Grigg got the scoring underway at the end of the first half and only two minutes into the second half Lewis Morgan got the second to send the lads to Wembley. It’s now time to book the hotels and think about cheesy chips on Wembley way again.
Jack Ross had this to say afterwards: “The ultimate reward for the supporters will be taking the club back to the Premier League, and the first part of that is obviously to try to get out of this league this season. That will always remain a focus, and that is what will reward the fans properly. But it’s great to be able to give them a little bit of payback for the fact that they came out and bought 20,000 season tickets before a ball had even been kicked this season. It’s not blind loyalty, but that’s an incredible show of loyalty given what had happened in the past. I know from people around the club how much the fanbase enjoyed their last visit to Wembley and what it meant to them in terms of having a weekend in London. They really enjoyed the occasion, and I’m sure they’ll do that again. I don’t think they’ll take too much notice that it’s a different competition – I think they’ll go there and it will be a release for them from what they’ve gone through in the last couple of years. I’m proud of the group that they’ve managed to provide that for the supporters, and once it comes around, the focus will be on winning the competition outright. We’ve treated the competition seriously and picked teams that have been right for the occasion. So when you get to this stage of the tournament, you don’t want that hard work to go to waste. The prize is big. Irrespective of what competition it is or why you’re involved in it, to get to a final at Wembley, with a chance, of winning silverware is huge. This type of opportunity doesn’t come around very often so it’s massive for us. We treated the game properly, and I’m delighted to have come out on the right side of the result. We’re in a good place just now as a squad, and I think that’s been reflected in a lot of our recent performances. We’re getting the reward with the results now as well. There’s been a consistency of selection, and we tried to do that again tonight. The couple of changes we had to make, we were able to bring in good players. There’s a good momentum about the group, I think they’re in a good place, and we’re looking forward to what the next two months are going to bring them. They’re absolutely excited now about playing in a cup final, and why shouldn’t they be? We’ll park it for the next few weeks, but it’s something for everybody to look forward.”
Ross was delighted that Will Grigg got his first SAFC goal from open play. “I’m delighted for him. His quality from open play has been good, and it was good again tonight. It’s got to be because of the way we play, there’s a lot of onus on him to play in that manner. He’s undoubtedly helped us in forward areas, with the way he plays the game. He’s played an important role, but tonight will be satisfying for him because that’s why we bought him. That type of touch and finish is what he’s all about.”