It was yet another torrid night to be a Sunderland fan as they watched their side struggle to a 2-0 defeat against Lincoln City in the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final. Is the final now out of reach for the Sunderland playoffs?
Sunderland Playoffs: Black Cats Lose to Lincoln City in League One Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg
Sunderland Dominated Possession But Couldn’t Make it Count
Despite dominating possession in the game and managing more total shots during the 90 minutes, it was the home side who prevailed.
Both sides battled away but the deadlock was finally broken in the second half as Tom Hopper nudged Lincoln in front. There was no reason to panic for the Black Cats though. It was only one goal and there was still another 130 minutes to play in total.
Fast forward to the 77th minute and the misery was further piled on Sunderland. Brennan Johnson extended the Imps advantage and they now found themselves needing to overturn a two-goal deficit in the next leg.
It’s certainly doable of course. It only takes a second to score a goal in football and stranger things have certainly happened, but it’s a familiar and painful sight for Sunderland fans.
Sunderland Fans Desperate to Escape League One via Play-Off Games
To work so hard to get into the playoffs and fall at the first hurdle – and condemn themselves to another season in League One – would be another hammer blow to the club and its fans.
Lincoln City, though, have done a tremendous job. Michael Appleton and his side have worked wonders and it is no surprise the gaffer is attracting interest from higher up the football pyramid. If he can drag his current side into the Championship, it looks unlikely he would want to leave the club he has put so much time into.
The Imps completely nullified the threat of Sunderland’s usual talisman Charlie Wyke. One of the top goalscorers in the league, he was limited to just two shots off target all night. Aiden McGeady, a force of pure creativity for the Black Cats, worked hard and tried to dig away at the Lincoln defence.
Lincoln City Held Firm and Deserved Their Win
Despite some efforts on goal and some key passes, even he couldn’t find a way through.
If Lincoln can produce even a slightly similar solid performance in the second leg – and nullify many of Sunderland’s threats – they will have done a superb job and will no doubt find themselves in the final at Wembley.
Besides the top two teams in League One, Sunderland were the joint second highest scorers in the league and they also conceded the second-fewest amount of goals of any team in the division.
Yet, in those 90 minutes, they managed to ship two goals and score none.
Still 90 Minutes for the Black Cats to Bounce Back
It isn’t over yet for the Black Cats. They can consider themselves lucky that they have another leg and another match to try and put things right and drag themselves out of the mire and back into the second tier. But Lincoln City aren’t messing around. They’re no pushovers and Sunderland have no divine right to brush them to one side either.
The Imps have shown that they are where they are on merit. They’ve worked even harder perhaps than Sunderland to get to where they are and they made their chances count in the first leg. Sunderland cannot afford to let them have their way again in the second leg of these playoffs.