Jack Ross: My Sunderland players couldn’t have given me anything more against Portsmouth
Jack Ross is adamant his Sunderland players couldn’t have given anything more in their crunch promotion battle with Pompey.
The Black Cats enjoyed the greater share of possession against Kenny Jackett’s side and registered more shots on target than their visitors.
However, the only stat that really counts – the final score – saw the game finish in a 1-1 draw, with Jamal Lowe’s 24th-minute tap-in cancelling out Tom Flanagan’s ninth-minute opener.
It wasn’t the outcome either side would have wanted prior to kick-off.
The Blues now sit four points behind leaders Luton and second-placed Barnsley, yet have a game in hand against Peterborough on Tuesday night before a final day of the season match-up against Accrington on Saturday.
On the same day, Luton host Oxford and Barnsley travel to Bristol Rovers, with everything still on the line.
For Sunderland, though, there’s less reason to be optimistic, with Ross’ side six points adrift in fourth place with a game in hand – but with the play-offs a more probable final destination.
The Black Cats boss, however, wasn’t disappointed in the application shown by his players against Pompey as they attempted to seek the win that would have propelled them above Jackett’s side in the automatic promotion mix.
‘I couldn’t have asked any more from my players in terms of the performance they gave,’ said Ross.
‘They came into the game under big pressure – both teams did – so to produce that level of performance in those circumstances, I’m proud of them for that.
‘It was a frustrating day for us because it’s not an exact science we work in – effort and good performance doesn’t always get you what you deserve. I thought we deserved to win the game, but we haven’t done.
‘We’ll have to dust ourselves down from that, but that group of players couldn’t have done any more to try to win the game.’
Ross, whose side travel to Fleetwood on Tuesday night, added he won’t give up on automatic promotion until it was mathematically impossible.
‘We still have an outside chance of achieving what we want to automatically, albeit a long shot, he added
‘But the only way that even becomes a possibility is if we win our game in hand on Tuesday.
‘We’ve had a consistency about everything we’ve done this season, and how we’ve tried to conduct ourselves and prepare, and that will continue to be the case.
‘We want to go and continue the performance level from Saturday into Tuesday, and hopefully win the game, and then see where it takes us at the weekend.’