KIERAN Richardson believes Sunderland’s fringe players succumbed to the pressure to impress in their FA Cup humiliation.
Richardson was one of just four survivors in the Sunderland side for Saturday’s FA Cup third round exit at the hands of League One Notts County.
Boss Steve Bruce had opted to hand his jaded regulars a breather ahead of Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby against Newcastle United and gave starts to the likes of Marcos Angeleri, Cristian Riveros, Paulo Da Silva and returning loanees Jack Colback and Andy Reid.
But none of them shone in a woeful display from the Black Cats as Sunderland failed to make it beyond the third round for the second time in four years.
Richardson told the Echo: “The manager has got a team he picks for the Premiership which is quite stable. When you come into the team, you’ve got to show why you should be playing.
“Sometimes it’s hard with that because there’s a lot of pressure if you haven’t played in a lot of games. It’s your opportunity to rise to the occasion.”
The 26-year-old added: “Everyone is down because it’s a massive blow to us losing to any team at home. Obviously the FA Cup is special to everyone and we haven’t had a good cup run in a while.
“The gaffer and everyone wanted us to do well this season so we’re devastated.
“Anything can happen on the day in the cup – that’s why it’s so special. But we didn’t hit the heights we normally do and we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.
“You can’t get a result like that out of your head – you’ve just been knocked out of the FA Cup which to me is massive. We’ve just got to move on and try to finish in the top half of the table.”
Richardson was involved in County’s fifth minute opener when he inadvertently barged into goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and the ball bobbled into the Sunderland net.
“The first half was dire,” said Richardson.
“There were loads of us in the box for the first goal.
“We all jumped and the next thing you know, the ball is in the back of the net.”