When Sunderland and Portsmouth have faced each other this season it has never been short of incident, controversy and talking points but unfortunately one thing it has lacked is a Sunderland victory.
There was a 3-1 defeat on the south coast, a penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley and a draw at the Stadium of Light on Saturday that almost feels like a defeat.
So many draws this season - an astonishing 19 - have cost Sunderland dear and like so many of the others, Saturday’s stalemate could and should have been a victory but for an outstanding performance from Pompey’s keeper and the woodwork.
Drawing at home to Portsmouth, or even last week’s gut-wrencher at Peterborough United, are not the results that have likely scuppered Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes, though.
It is the draws at home, to Accrington, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Fleetwood and Blackpool etc that have done that.
And just think if just two or three of those draws ended in the wins they should have been, the job would have been so much easier but all Sunderland can do now is win their final two games and hope for a miracle.
I am not one for giving up when there is even a glimmer of hope but you also have to be realistic and the bookies odds of Sunderland going up automatically are massive so that says it all.
The players, I felt, gave everything they have against Portsmouth, you can criticise them for many things, not seeing games out, like at Peterborough, giving the opposition a goal start far too often especially earlier this season but they tend to leave everything on the pitch and I don’t expect that to change which bodes well for if, and when, the play-off games come round.
Aiden McGeady is a class act, he is so far ahead of the players at this level but that broken bone in his foot worries me, he will have to be managed carefully as he will be vital if Sunderland are to eventually gain promotion.
So Sunderland’s players head to Fleetwood tomorrow night and they must be disappointed if their campaign goes on longer than Saturday but if Sunderland have to go up the hard way, so be it, there is far too much at stake for anyone to be feeling sorry for themselves.