Sunderland slipped to seventh after a pathetic performance and 2-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers. We have now picked up two points from twelve and are going nowhere. Phil Parkinson had this to say afterwards: “We started OK, we had decent control, we were passing reasonably well, but we then got caught up with the referee decisions. The crowd, we got too emotional and stopped playing. I spoke about it before, away from home, the crowd can get on to the ref, decisions go against you, and it affected our play. There was an incident just in front of the dug-out in the first half, everyone reacted to it and we couldn’t get back playing again. We lost our cool, we conceded the first goal seven or eight minutes later. We lost our way and we have to accept that wasn’t a good enough performance in terms of the way we have been playing.”

Kyle Lafferty was withdrawn at the interval after losing his discipline. “I brought him off at half-time because I thought he was going to get sent off,” added Parkinson. “He was one booking, warning away from being sent off. After what he did for us at the weekend, how well he took his goals against Gillingham, that really summed up the evening’s work for us. In any game it has been a physical challenge for us, and we have had to be calm, cool, how do we get back in the game? What we have been doing with our patterns of play, the movement, control of the game, that was how we would get back into it. We got caught up in a frenzy, gave free-kicks away. The referee was very poor, but I have said to the lads many times don’t expect any favours away from home because being a ref is sometimes difficult. We got caught up in that instead of playing with our heads.”