Sunderland don't do things the easy way but promotion is still within reach to prove they are no 'bottle-jobs'

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Twitter is not well known for its balanced reason and debate in the immediate aftermath of the end of a high-profile, intense, nerve-shredding, high-stakes football game.

It’s for that reason Jack Ross, the Sunderland players and coaching staff would have been well advised to stay away from social media following the 1-1 draw against Peterborough United at the ABAX Stadium.

Max Power and Chris Maguire celebrate Sunderland goal at Peterborough United.

Max Power and Chris Maguire celebrate Sunderland goal at Peterborough United.

Having worked so hard to get their noses in front, the impressive Max Power powering forward before rifling a low shot into the bottom corner of the net, Sunderland then chucked two points away four minutes later, Posh levelling in added-on time.

A cruel, cruel blow.

Arguably a fair result, though. The League One clash was end-to-end and fast-paced despite the hot conditions and with very little to separate the two sides over the 90 minutes.

On Twitter, ‘shambolic’, ‘absolutely embarrassing’ and ‘bottle-jobs’ were among the newspaper-friendly phrases aimed at the Sunderland players and manager.

Sunderland AFC coverage in association with John G Hogg.

Sunderland AFC coverage in association with John G Hogg.

Another summed up their feelings with: ‘The day we lost promotion’.

This draw did, it has to be said, feel like a defeat and it hurt the Sunderland dressing room, Ross admitting the players were quiet and feeling sore after throwing away what could yet prove to be two precious points in their ongoing battle for automatic promotion.

Sunderland have drawn far too many games, 18 in total and they have drawn seven times from winning positions - those 14 dropped points would see them comfortably top of the league table.

However, life isn’t that simple is it? And it certainly isn’t at Sunderland AFC.

But the time for an inquest isn’t now. Sunderland have three huge games coming up. HUGE. Win those and they could still win automatic promotion.

Ross has always said a ratio of two points per game over the course of the season should be enough to see them up, they have just dipped below that to 84 points from 43 games.

The fact the Black Cats are fourth with that points tally and could still finish the season on 93 points shows just how competitive League One is this season.

Luton Town, Barnsley, Portsmouth, Sunderland and to a lesser extent Charlton Athletic have all played their part in a fiercely intense battle for automatic promotion.

There have been several twists and turns over the course of the campaign, Pompey falling away badly before their late revival while Barnsley have shown chinks in their armour.

Sunderland must hope a further twist is to come in the final week and they can string together three wins, however those victories come.

If not, then it will be the lottery of the play-offs.

And should the Black Cats fail to win promotion this season then there will be some big questions to ask.

But now is not the time for that.

Now is the time for one final push, in the stands and on the pitch.

As well as the outpouring of hurt and anger on Twitter, there was also a significant portion of fans focusing on the wider picture, the long-term project and rebuild on Wearside given Ross had to scramble a squad together last summer during a major overhaul as well as dealing with the fallout from successive relegations and all that comes with that.

As one Twitter user summed up: “But if we have to achieve promotion through the play offs, then so be it. No need for some of our fans to throw in the towel yet. Get behind the lads for goodness sake.”

That starts with the visit of Portsmouth to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.

Sunderland’s support has been superb, home crowds averaging well over 30,000 and sold-out away followings. That won’t change.

The squad and Sunderland faithful will have dusted themselves down by the time Pompey roll into Wearside and everyone has their role to play.

Sunderland have never done things the easy way but there is still time to show they are no ‘bottle-jobs’.