George Honeyman on Sunderland's red card frustration, Portsmouth defeat and bouncing back on Boxing Day

George Honeyman's frustration was obvious.

Monday, 24th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 3:58 pm
Portsmouth FC 3-1 Sunderland AFC 21-12-20128 . Picture by FRANK REID

Sunderland’s captain opened up on a difficult second half at Fratton Park, one in which his side had shown their spirit but had not been able to show their quality.

The red card shown to Glenn Loovens at the start of that half was their fifth of the season.

Some have been clearcut, others less so.

Honeyman felt he was stamped on by Portsmouth’s Lee Brown in the first half, an incident that went unpunished.

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“Those things are uncontrollable, there’s nothing we can do about that,” Honeyman said.

“I don’t know what the rule is because I thought there was the double-jeopardy rule. Is he trying to say he [Loovens] hasn’t played the ball? I don’t know, I need to see it back.

“You could get it one day and not on another. We’ve probably been a bit unlucky on the end of the decisions but these things happen in football and we have to take it on the chin and go again.

“We’ve done brilliantly in the previous games coming back from goals down or what have you and going on to win or draw games but it’s going to catch up with you at some point. It’s definitely not a discipline issue, I don’t think.

“It was a bit of the rub of the green. They could have had a man sent off in the first half, ours could have gone either way. That’s football.

“We don’t look as if it hinders us too much going down to ten men but obviously it’s not going to help in the long run. But it is what it is.”

Sunderland looked in control of the first half, not creating too many chances but keeping Portsmouth at arm’s length.

“I think we felt really comfortable in the first half, I think we felt we had the better chances, we felt like we had more of the ball and going into the second half this season we’ve normally kicked on and been a better team in the second half, so it was a second half we were really looking forward to,” Honeyman said.

“Unfortunately the [Loovens] incient happened early in the second half and took the wind out of our sails.

“These things happen, this is football and we will bounce back again on Boxing Day.”

For the second game in a row Sunderland were hit by a late withdrawal to their side, with Adam Matthews unfit due to a calf problem.

Honeyman says this squad have shown their spirit in adversity and will bounce back in front of an incredible support when Bradford City visit on Boxing Day.

“That’s going to happen over the course of the season, there’s going to be lads out and there’s going to be things go against you but we’re really lucky to have a great squad where we can put any 11 players out and feel comfortable on the pitch,” he said.

“We’ve just got to come together as we always do, when we go a goal down, when we lose a game or whatever and we’ll be stronger for it. It’s not a case of the lads chucking the towel in.

“We scored another great goal when we were down to ten men but but we can’t keep putting ourself in that position. It happened, we lost the game, but we’re halfway through the season, there’s a lot of football still to play and we still believe this squad’s only going to get strogner.

“It was a big game, of course it was a big game. It was a chance to peg back Pompey but from here until the end of the season we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and I think if we do in the second half of the season what we’ve done in the first half of the season, we’ll go up as one or two.

“We have to keep things in perspective and what a game to put it right in on Boxing Day,” he added.

“As everyone’s said this season, it’s a great place to be and to take more than 2,000 fans to Portsmouth the Saturday before Christmas is amazing support, it really is – and it doesn’t go unnoticed. We didn’t produce a result for them on Saturday but I’m confident we will on Boxing Day.

“Their following, we’re always grateful for it no matter what. They follow us in unbelievable numbers considering what they’ve been through in previous years.

“They showed their appreiciation because I think they saw effort and they realised the circumstances. I’m always so proud of this club and these fans and it’s a real privelege captaining them.

“We’re going to bottle this feeling and use it to our advantage for the rest of the season. In football you’re going to get beaten sometimes but it’s how you react to it. I’m sure everyone will see on Boxing Day.”