Jack Ross delivers verdict on poor Sunderland display and why Checkatrade Trophy final wasn't a distraction
Jack Ross doesn’t believe reaching the Checkatrade Trophy final proved a distraction in the disappointing draw with Wycombe Wanderers.
The Black Cats boss admitted his side were well below-par but didn’t think reaching a Wembley final later this month had any impact on the performance.
Sunderland were dismal first half at Adams Park, falling behind to an Alex Samuel close-range finish 35 minutes in.
There was a slight improvement after the break, sub Duncan Watmore eventually equalising in the fourth minute of added-on time.
There was further drama late on when skipper George Honeyman and Nathan Tyson saw red following a mass melee involving both benches, Marcus Bean then shown a second yellow for a poor foul on Watmore, the forward injuring his ankle in the process.
Ross reflected: "I try and stay clear-headed through it all but we didn’t play well, I don’t want anything to take away from the fact that we weren’t good, especially first half.
“There was nothing from the game we didn’t expect.
"We just didn't deal with it as well as we'd have liked.
"We did as much as we could with personnel changes and shape changes, second half we had more purpose about us but it wasn't a good day for us.
"To then dig something out of the game is testament to the players, such a strength of character not to be beat.
"It is not an easy thing to do.
"They could have lost heart but there was really good resilience from them.
“The players have had that character in abundance. If we go and win the game on Tuesday then this is a brilliant point.
“If we don’t, then you look at it as being a frustrating game and one we haven’t played well in.
“We showed resilience, because we weren’t good, they kept going and trying and trying.
“They knew they weren’t at it, you could see that, they were frustrated, but didn’t try to stop scoring in the game.
“Staying unbeaten since December is decent, scoring in every game again - we try and win every game.”
“I would never use it as an excuse but when Plymouth came to our place recently a lot of people talked about the travelling, well we have to do as much, we are pretty isolated.
"When we have away game trips it is another challenge but it is not an excuse as we knew what to expect. Wycombe are a tough team to play against.
“We knew what to expect but didn’t get to grips with it, it was a bit blustery and bumpy, we didn’t get to grips with it, especially first half.
“The big prize for us is achieving promotion. There was never any chance of a cup final superseding that.
“It is an irrelevance at the moment, the only time it becomes relevant is the week leading up to the game.”