Complacency wasn't to blame for poor second half display but Sunderland need to get heads right for nine more cup finals

Wembley has seen some great games over the years, but Sunderland and Portsmouth - and both sets of fans - put on a show in the Checkatrade Trophy that had virtually everything and if the FA Cup final is half as entertaining it will be worth watching.

By Gary Rowell
Monday, 01 April, 2019, 21:13
Sunderland supporters at Wembley. Getty Images.

Despite losing on Sunday, I am still proud of the club we all love and our incredible fans and while it might not feel like it now, if promotion is achieved then this latest defeat at Wembley won’t feel as bad.

Sunderland absolutely dominated the first half, I remember thinking that this is as good as I have seen Sunderland play all season and they all looked as if they were relishing the occasion and playing on the big stage.

In association with John Hogg.

However, that wasn’t the case after the interval, Portsmouth finally got into gear and it was no surprise when they deservedly equalised to set up extra-time.

The final 30 minutes was just as nail-biting, with Portsmouth going ahead but Sunderland - when all seemed lost - showed their character by equalising late on to bring on the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

Now this is when thoughts turned back to the last penalty shoot-out Sunderland featured in at Wembley all those years ago against Charlton and sure enough the same thing happens, we lose through one penalty miss.

It is never easy being a Sunderland fan, the disappointment always outweigh the good times, the fine margins so often seem to go against us, we should be used to it now but it is still hard to take.

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Checkatrade Trophy final coverage in association with Grand Central.

The big question being asked is after half-time why Sunderland handed the initiative back to Portsmouth so easily?

Some are asking was it complacency? I doubt that. The attitude of Jack Ross’ side has been tremendous all season so I can’t see that changing at Wembley.

However, we did run out of steam, possibly through not playing for over two weeks and also Pompey couldn’t possibly be worse than they were in the first half.

The team gave everything though, everyone of them, with McGeady and Cattermole shining, which makes Cattermole’s penalty miss even more heartbreaking.

Sunderland have just played a cup final and have nine league games left, which are all just as big as any cup final so Sunderland have to lick their wounds now and get their heads right because there is still so much to play for.