The gap in Sunderland’s fixture list offers the perfect time to stop and reflect on the season so far.
The Black Cats are currently well positioned to challenge for promotion, but being one place outside of the play-offs with ten games to go means that there’s work still to be done.
Many supporters will have been hoping to higher up the table, or even standing in a dominant position in the automatic promotion spots by this stage, but that just hasn’t looked viable at any point through the season.
Excluding their recent fine run of form, Sunderland have never been able to show the kind of consistency that would make them genuine promotion favourites.
For whatever reason, the side have always got in in their locker to slip up when they’re thought to be in a dominant position and that’s something that could prove costly.
With that in mind we’ve decided to look at the two worst moments of the Sunderland season so far.
Gillingham 1-0 Sunderland
You don’t have to look much further than the trip to Kent in early December for a particular low point in the campaign.
A poor run of form had seen new Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson come under early pressure and this result certainly didn’t help.
It was expected that this could be an ideal game to see the Black Cats back to winning ways, but alas, it wasn’t to be.
Connor Ogilvie’s late strike was a real sucker-punch for Sunderland who were sloppy in possession and quite frankly, never really looked like they deserved to get something from the game.
It’s probably quite telling that only six of that day’s starting XI can still consider themselves to be first team regulars for the Black Cats.
Can you name every Sunderland front-of-shirt sponsor from the last 15 seasons?
Bristol Rover 2-0 Sunderland
We don’t have to go back too far for this one as it was the Black Cats’ last game.
But it’s not exactly the sort of result that Phil Parkinson’s side would be wanting to dwell on as they face the prospects of weeks or months without a game.
A tricky run of games against Fleetwood Town, Coventry City and Gillingham had seen Sunderland pick up just two points from nine games, and a trip to the Memorial Stadium was tipped as the perfect time to get themselves back on track.
Unfortunately what happened was the exact opposite.
Phil Parkinson’s side lacked fight and quality on the ball as they were swept aside with ease against the League One strugglers – a result which made it four games without a win.
It also saw them drop out of the play-off positions and it’ll certainly be interesting to see whether this could be a fatal blow in their hopes of securing promotion.