Good Friday saw something of a miracle from Sunderland, as their unlikely fight to survive in the Championship finally kicked into gear. The Black Cats went into the game on a run of three straight defeats but stunned Derby County away from home with a 4-1 win.
Goals from George Honeyman, Ashley Fletcher, Aiden McGeady and John O’Shea gave Sunderland all three points, despite Matej Vydra’s attempt to spoil the party halfway through.
The result gives Sunderland, who have been in freefall, a hope of Championship survival. With seven games left they are five points behind Birmingham City and safety.
Dropping into the third-tier of English football would be a massive blow for Sunderland and would signify the mismanagement of the club in recent times under the stewardship of Ellis Short.
There is one little-known fact that highlights the club’s fall from grace more than any other. Should Sunderland fall out of the Championship and into League One it would represent just the second time the club have played outside the top two tiers of the English game.
Sunderland have a rich history. They joined the Football League in the third year of its inception after Stoke were not re-elected.
It was then 68 years before Sunderland suffered relegation. The club was relegated to the third tier for the one and only time in 1987, bouncing straight back up at the first attempt.
Not many teams in English football have such a proud and successful record which makes the demise of Sunderland all the more disappointing to watch.
The 4-1 win at Derby however undoubtedly gives Sunderland hope that they will not repeat 1987 this year around. A club of this stature should not be in such dire straits. Hopefully, Chris Coleman can pull off the great escape.