Sunderland fell to their fourth defeat of the season last night as Fleetwood took all three points at Highbury.
Jack Ross’ men were punished for not taking their chances in the first half and Joey Barton’s side toook full advantage to claim three points,
It is crazy to think that Sunderland have lost just four games this season and have not been promoted.
Of course, the 19 draws in the league have been an important factor as a win in just a five of those would have seen us promoted automatically.
Four defeats is still a very impressive total and the squad should take heart from the fact that they have been the hardest team to beat in the league this season.
Play-off football will be back at the Stadium of Light for just the third time this season now that Sunderland are officially out of automatic promotion contention.
Our two previous play-off games at the Stadium of Light saw the Lads defeat Sheffield United to reach the final in 1998 and lose to Crystal Palace on penalties in 2004.
Sunderland have had no play-off luck, having failed to win the post-season lottery on a few occasions. Though we were promoted in 1990 despite losing the final to Swindon Town.
To get promoted this season we will have to not only break out play-off curse, but also end a run of six straight Wembley defeats.
C A T T S
Lee Cattermole headed home his seventh goal of the season last night.
Prior to this season, Catts had scored only three goals nine seasons with Sunderland - now he has seven across this campaign alone!
And just to run through those goals. He scored two v AFC Wimbledon, one vs Coventry, Gillingham, Plymouth, Walsall and of course Fleetwood.
FINAL DAY FATE
So now that our chances of automatic promotion has gone, surely that means we have nothing to play for on the final day?
That is not correct. Sunderland have quite a lot still to play for as home advantage and finishing third are both still important.
A victory on Saturday mixed with Portsmouth dropping points would see the Lads finish third and challenge the sixth placed team - either Doncaster Rovers or Peterborough.
The gaffer will also have half an eye on Charlton as they can overtake Sunderland if they better our result at the weekend - that would mean losing home advantage in the play-offs.
Sometimes in football it doesn’t matter how well you play. Sometimes it feels like lady luck has deserted you.
Over the last two games Sunderland have hit the goal frame more than they have hit the back of the net.
Against Portsmouth, Lewis Morgan and Will Grigg both hit the woodwork - a goal there would surely have pushed us onto victory.
And last night, the woodwork again came to the aid of the opposition as Grigg fired a magnificent shot that hit off the crossbar.
Hopefully that means that the luck Sunderland are due, will fall nicely to them in the play-offs.