Tony Gillan: Peterborough really didn't need their patronising '12th man' to see off awful Sunderland

Sunderland’s visit to Peterborough United on Saturday wasn’t the most uplifting experience.

Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 11:48 am

I don’t think I’m courting controversy by saying that, although you’d be surprised.

Sunderland rarely lose in League One. There were only five defeats in 2018-19; the last two of which hardly counted as there was nothing to play for.

But rare or not, it’s more annoying to lose in this league than in the higher ones. To begin with, opposition fans this division have it both ways when their team beats Sunderland. This is when being the biggest club in the league isn’t necessarily to the good.

Sunderland striker Charlie Wyke battles for the ball against Peterborough United.

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They simultaneously derive more joy from beating Sunderland than any other opposition, while delighting in reminding SAFC followers that their team is nothing special (as if anyone had failed to notice).

In any league, defeat is exacerbated when it comes at the hands of clubs who are a bit, you know, Beano and Dandy.

I’m talking about the ones who allow drums and trumpets into the ground in the name of “atmosphere”, thereby unwittingly confirming that they don’t actually have any (don’t forget to watch England play Bulgaria at Wembley this Saturday).

Then there are teams that have set tunes to blast out when they score a goal (embarrassingly, Sunderland did this in the early days of the Stadium of Light).

Peterborough don’t do any of this. However, they have retired their number 12 shirt because – oh dear – “The Posh fans have been given the important number 12 shirt, as they will be the 12th man this season.” Aaaargh!

The Posh fans offer quite decent vocal support and don’t need this patronising guff to do so.

Still, let’s not quibble over what sort of club Sunderland lost to at the weekend. Peterborough weren’t brilliant, but they deserved to win.

Luke O’Nien’s red card was patently absurd. But it was 3-0 by then anyway. It was a day when bad things that rarely happen – did. Games like Saturdays are not habitual.

Sunderland had conceded more than two goals only twice in their previous 58 league games. Just last week we alluded to the fact that they had failed to score only once in 59.

It had been six years since two Sunderland players were dismissed in the same fixture (Andrea Dossena and Lee Cattermole against Hull City, fact fans).

Peterborough’s all-important first goal came after Jon McLaughlin’s uncharacteristic failure to move from the spot.

Unfortunately, due to one of those irritating international weekends, Sunderland won’t have the opportunity to wring Peterborough from their system until they play Accrington Stanley on September 14.

All any team can ever do after a bad defeat is win the next game. Not that Stanley are to be taken for granted.

There are those who seem to change their opinion of Sunderland, and their manager in particular, depending on what the last result was.

But most Sunderland supporters take a wider view and haven’t based any of opinion on Peterborough alone. They’re quite philosophical as London Road saw a weird one: an aberration.

Six games into this season Sunderland have 11 points. At the same stage last year they had 14, but then won only one of their next five.

So forget last weekend. The most important game is always the next one. If they manage to win it loads-nil, then we’ll call it quits.