Sunderland played out an extremely physical battle with Wycombe on Saturday in a clash that ended in a bench-clearing brawl, but Chairboys boss Gareth Ainsworth is full of praise for the Black Cats.
Jack Ross’s side had to wait until the 94th minute to retain their incredible scoring run this season, as Duncan Watmore’s late equaliser at Adams Park means they have still scored in every single league game this season.
Wycombe had taken the lead through Alex Samuel’s first half strike, but Watmore’s dramatic late goal rescued yet another all-important point in the race for automatic promotion, and Ainsworth has given his backing.
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“A point against Sunderland home and away is a message Wycombe are here to compete,” he said.
“Sunderland are a magnificent side, what a football club, their fans were awesome – what a following that is. That was a great point.
“Jack is a great guy, I have a lot of respect for him. I’m pleased they got to Wembley and hope they get promoted because he has done a fantastic job.
“We have had some good battles. What he has done and as a human being in general, he is a great guy, he really is.
“Sunderland is a fantastic football club and I take it as a compliment that we have been able to compete, home and away.”
With no fixtures between the two left this campaign, there are no mind games involved here. This is quite simply Ainsworth giving his backing to a team he is mightily impressed by.
It is surprising though, purely due to the nature of the match. The 90 minutes was rife with deliberate fouling and time wasting, and three players were sent off in the space of two minutes late in stoppage time.
Ainsworth deserves a lot of credit for putting the competitiveness aside once the final whistle blows though, and Sunderland fans will surely love seeing such high praise for both their club and manager from a rival boss.