'Massive respect': Wycombe boss delivered this verdict on Sunderland and 'hell of a player' Ross Stewart

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Gareth Ainsworth said he had 'massive respect' for Sunderland after they opted to play despite a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

The Black Cats decided not to request a postponement from the EFL despite their list of absentees running comfortably into double figures, instead recalling Anthony Patterson, Jack Diamond and Josh Hawkes.

"I want to give credit to Lee Johnson and Sunderland, they've come out and said, we've got COVID cases but we'll play," Ainsworth said.

"They've done it right.

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Sunderland striker Ross StewartSunderland striker Ross Stewart
Sunderland striker Ross Stewart

"I'm not saying others haven't but there have been a few rumours about others wanting to get that transfer window.

"We absolutely respect that massively, and I'm so glad the game was such a spectacle."

The two sides played out a League One classic in front of the Sky cameras, with Wycombe rescuing a point in the 98th minute through a Joe Jacobson goal.

Ainsworth said his side deserved a point but admitted that they had been outplayed for much of the second half.

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The Wanderers boss also paid tribute to the travelling support and striker Ross Stewart, who he described as a 'hell of a player'.

"Ross Stewart is a hell of a player," Ainsworth said.

"He'll go on to huge, huge things.

"That was a learning curve for some of my defenders.

"I have to give massive credit to the Sunderland fans, they were fantastic.

"They're brilliant, and you know they are going to be. They have to get back into the higher leagues.

"But we weren't overawed, and we matched them.

"People say we're a long-ball team and yeah we get the ball into the final third, but once we're there there's no better players than Gareth McCleary and Anis Mehmeti at times.

"I'm really proud.

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"People can bill us however they like, I'm putting us down as a fantastic team.

"This team never gives in, the belief is incredible.

"I thought we very slightly had the better of the first half, they very definitely had the better of the second half.

"What a game. It had all sorts, and I thought the graft the lads put in, they deserved something."

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