Sunderland lost the EFL trophy final at Wembley on Sunday afternoon as Portsmouth beat the lads 5 – 4 on penalties in what was a thrilling game. Aiden McGeady had given the lads the lead in the first half with a brilliant free kick before Nathan Thompson took the game to extra time with a header ten minutes from time. Jamal Lowe looked to have won the game in extra time when he lobbed McLaughlin only for McGeady to pop up again at the death and take the tie to penalties. Lee Cattermole was the only Sunderland play to miss with the keeper saving his effort giving Portsmouth the win.
Jack Ross spoke about Lee Cattermole following his penalty shoot-out miss. “He’s OK. Like the whole group, he is sore, hurting, and in pain. There are two sides to it - you don’t have the career he has had without strength of character, but you also don’t have the career he has had without taking an awful lot of pride in what you do so there’s nothing that will take that soreness away apart from the passage of time. But we have an immediate aim to try to rectify that pain individually and collectively by achieving promotion. What we have done this season has been as a group of players and staff, and any disappointment we have felt such as today is also felt as a group. Right now it’s a sore changing room, it’s painful, and there are no magic words to take away that pain because you come here to win a trophy and you put a huge amount into trying to do so. But equally we went into this game on the back of an enforced break and it has allowed us to have that time to focus, and irrespective of how today went we had spoken a lot about the game on Wednesday evening and the game on Saturday and how important they are for us. We’ll allow the pain to subside tonight and then we’ll get back to work properly tomorrow and prepare for the league game at Accrington on Wednesday.”
Ross also defended his players and believes they'll bounce back from this blow: “Oh we’re resilient enough. We've shown that. It’s very easy to say that but you can see the number of times, the number of points we’ve won from losing positions. The character you need to play for this club and be involved in this club, you’ve got to have that. We’ve shown that again in the last 120 seconds of extra time, because dragging yourself up after you concede so late in extra time is not easy, physically and mentally, but we managed to do that again. If we don’t succeed this season it won’t be because of strength of character, because we have that in abundance. To say we ran out of ideas is inaccurate and disrespectful to my group who gave everything. I think that’s the wrong tone to take with that. First half we were really good, second half Portsmouth were really good. They changed the dynamics of the game and we had to be resilient during that period. The flow of the game is very easy to speak about and say you could have changed it magically. You can’t some days and like I said, I thought we had played well and then got ourselves back into it. Extra time becomes very different to the 90 minutes you play previously. The first half was really good. To play in that manner on such an occasion was terrific. I suppose now, in hindsight, there’s probably a little bit of frustration that we didn’t take more advantage of that because always knew there would be spells in the game where Portsmouth would come back into it.”
Ross also explained his decision to withdraw Will Grigg, but didn’t explain why he then decided to play with no forwards which invited the pressure that led to Pompey equalising and us ultimately losing the cup final. “It was partly the ankle injury and partly fatigue. He has really not trained, he has actually not trained much recently full stop. We are having to nurse him through little bits of training and games. When you are doing that there is obviously doing that, there is that fatigue element, both that and we have some big games coming up where we are going to need him. There were a lot of different factors in that decision.”