This is why Sunderland's Championship play-off hopes are still alive - fan blog

After last month’s ruthless exposure from Stoke City, many thought that Sunderland’s season was all but over.
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Their weaknesses had been so humiliatingly destroyed, and it looked as if there was no way that the club could even look up the table, with one of the toughest run-ins of the season on the cards.

Norwich away, Sheffield United at home, Luton at home and Burnley away (all whom were within the top six at the time) did look a heavy proposition for this young side.

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Yet, come the end of that run, Sunderland are, still, alive and kicking.

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray and Burnley manager Vincent Kompany. PA pic.Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray and Burnley manager Vincent Kompany. PA pic.
Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray and Burnley manager Vincent Kompany. PA pic.

This was meant to be the toughest out of the lot: Burnley at Turf Moor on a Friday night with Vincent Kompany’s men only a handful of wins away from clinching an immediate return to the top-flight.

However, it’s credit to the mentality of this side that they became the first team since Manchester City to keep a clean sheet at the home of the Clarets. But this wasn’t a ‘park the bus’ performance. Far from it.

Sunderland picked their times to press a recently-resistant Burnley backline, and had opportunities of their own. If it wasn’t for the most minuscule margins, perhaps this might have been an entirely different story.

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They frustrated Kompany’s men extremely well. There’s no doubt that Burnley had the greater number of chances, and maybe if Manuel Benson and Nathan Tella had posed a similar threat as they did at the Stadium of Light in October, the Clarets may have moved themselves a step closer to promotion.

Yet, this wasn’t a young side that fell to their knees. The mental and physical resilience of this crop of players was something unrecognisable to that of their Stoke hammering only a few weeks ago.

And, nearly a month on from that humbling day on Wearside, Tony Mowbray’s side are still in the play-off picture. On paper, their final run-in looks slightly easier than that of four weeks ago.

Maintain the standard of performance to the one they showed at Turf Moor, and possibly, just possibly, the Black Cats still have a chance.