Sunderland boss: Reaching Checkatrade Trophy final against Portsmouth not an excuse for below-par show at Wycombe
Jack Ross said Sunderland could not use their upcoming Wembley date with Pompey as an excuse for their 1-1 draw at Wycombe.
The manager admitted his players were not anywhere near the standards he would want in the League One game.
They relied on a stoppage-time equaliser from Duncan Watmore to get a point and that didn’t really help their push for automatic promotion.
But the Checkatrade Trophy final against Pompey later this month was not the reason for the poor display.
He told the Sunderland Echo: ‘I don’t think that was a factor.
‘Individually a lot of us were below par and collectively as well.
‘Wycombe are a tough team to play against.
‘We knew what to expect but didn’t get to grips with it, it was a bit blustery and bumpy, we didn’t get to grips with it, especially first half.
‘The big prize for us is achieving promotion. There was never any chance of a cup final superseding that.
‘It is an irrelevance at the moment, the only time it becomes relevant is the week leading up to the game.’
Watmore pounced on an error by home goalkeeper Ryan Allsop to earn Sunderland a 1-1 draw after Alex Samuel's 35th-minute opener for Wycombe.
Three players were sent off late in the match as well in a dramatic finish.
A touchline clash between Sunderland's George Honeyman and Wycombe's Nathan Tyson led to both players – who had earlier been substituted – being shown the red card by referee Lee Swabey.
And there was still time for Wycombe's Marcus Bean, who had a loan spell with Pompey in the 2014-15 season, to also be dismissed for a bad foul on Watmore more than 10 minutes into added time.
Leaders Luton saw their advantage at the top cut to three points as they were held to a goalless draw at Plymouth.
Second-placed Barnsley took full advantage as they stretched their unbeaten league run to 17 games with a 2-0 home win over Accrington.
Dimitri Cavare set the Tykes on their way with a 41st-minute opener and an own goal by Will Wood in first-half stoppage time all but sealed another win for the home side.
Bottom club AFC Wimbledon gave a huge boost to their survival prospects with a 2-0 win over Doncaster.
The game changed after Rovers had John Marquis sent off shortly after the interval, with Steve Seddon opening the scoring after 67 minutes and Shane McLoughlin making sure of the win in added time.
Fellow strugglers Bradford got new boss Gary Bowyer's reign off to a flying start with an impressive 3-1 win over fading Peterborough.
Having hit the bar in the first half, Jacob Butterfield lashed the opener after 70 minutes and Eoin Doyle grabbed a second for the Bantams seven minutes from time.
Lewis O'Brien made it 3-0 three minutes later before Posh grabbed a last minute consolation through a Marcus Maddison penalty.
Almost 16,000 Blackpool fans had a party to remember as the Seasiders salvaged a 2-2 draw against Southend.
Supporters flocked back to Bloomfield Road following the departure of the Oyston family from the club last week but they saw the visitors twice take the lead through Rob Kiernan and Michael Turner.
Blackpool, who had initially equalised through Armand Gnanduillet, levelled again deep stoppage time when an own goal from Taylor Moore sparked wild scenes of celebration.
Rochdale responded to the departure of boss Keith Hill in midweek by ending a run of four defeats in a row with a 2-1 win over Shrewsbury.
Goals from Kgosi Ntlhe and Jimmy McNulty put Dale in command before Greg Docherty pulled one back in the last minute.
A first-half goal from Jonson Clarke-Harris gave Bristol Rovers a precious 1-0 win at Scunthorpe, while goals from Morgan Ferrier and Dan Scarr saw Walsall beat Fleetwood 2-0 and Brandon Hanlan headed home an 89th-minute winner as Gillingham saw off Oxford 1-0.