Aiden McGeady sends promotion message to Sunderland team-mates after Wembley heartbreak
The Sunderland winger produced a standout display at Wembley stadium, scoring twice in the 2-2 draw before the Black Cats side lost out on penalties.
It was a deflating blow for Jack Ross’ side and the 40,000 Sunderland fans who made the journey to the national stadium, especially after they held the lead with just eight minutes of normal time to go.
But, with a crucial League One game at Accrington Stanley to come on Wednesday night, McGeady knows his side must react fast.
“It’s down to us to not let it affect our season,” said the dejected winger after the game.
“It was a good performance, it was a good day out, it’s a bitter feeling at the end.
“It’s a trophy that once you are in the final you want to win, but at the start of the season the main aim was to win promotion.
“We have nine games left this season to do that, so nine cup finals really.”
“I want to say thanks to the fans for their support. I wasn’t sure what the atmosphere was going to be like but walking round before the game and it was a full stadium, it’s unique for this competition and something that will live with every player.”
McGeady admitted Sunderland were tiring in the final stages, before he netted a late equaliser to send the game to spot kicks.
It came after some neat work and awareness from substitute Charlie Wyke, who teed up McGeady to make it 2-2.
“Luckily the free-kick went in and the second one got us to penalties,” said McGeady when asked about his Wembley brace.
“I wasn’t banking on us getting the second because I think we were dead on our feet at that point in the game.
“But Charlie came on and showed awareness in the box and the defender couldn’t clear it off the line.”
So will McGeady be able to take any consolation from his impressive performance at the national stadium?
“Maybe in a couple of weeks’ time I can think about it,” McGeady replied.
“But ultimately you want to be part of a winning team, that’s the main thing rather than personal goals.
“It’s something that I’ve done, but I would have preferred not to score and for us to win.”
McGeady is more concerned about the impending promotion race, though, which was always the main aim for Sunderland at the start of the campaign.
Despite being six points behind second-place Barnsley, automatic promotion remains in Sunderland’s hands, having played three games less than the Tykes.
A trip to the Wham Stadium to face a Stanley, who sit 18th in League One, will provide a completely different proposition, yet McGeady knows his side can’t take the game lightly.
“It’s another game of football. It’s our job,” added the winger.
“We have to approach it in the same way. I’m not going to disrespect Accrington Stanley.
“Evidently, it will be different, from 85,000 to 6,000, but it’s a game that will be tough.”
When asked if promotion from League One would make up for the Wembley disappointment, McGeady gave a definitive answer: “100 per cent. We can’t turn back time.
“Portsmouth won the cup today, fair play to them. But now we have to kick on for the last nine games of the season and get ourselves first or second.”