Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch endured a shocking evening at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, as Lee Johnson’s side slipped up yet again in their push for promotion.
Knowing that a win against fellow promotion hopefuls Blackpool would have all but secured a spot in the League One play-offs come the end of the season, the Black Cats failed to take their opportunities against Neil Critchley’s side on the night, ultimately slumping to a 1-0 defeat following a second-half Sullay Kaikai strike.
The result means that Sunderland are now winless in seven league fixtures, and sees Johnson’s side slip to fourth place in the table with just two games remaining of the regular season, a mere four points ahead of Oxford United in seventh.
In the fixture itself, Gooch was one of the Black Cats’ more disappointing performers on the night, with the attacking midfielder proving extremely wasteful in the final third, failing to hit the target with both of his attempts at Chris Maxwell’s goal.
The £5,000-per-week man was not much better creatively either, with the 25-year-old finding his man on just one occasion from his eight attempted crosses and with none of his four attempted long balls.
Overall, only Lee Burge and Josh Scowen – both 6.3 – earned an overall SofaScore match rating lower than Gooch’s 6.6 against Blackpool, with the United States international more than likely wanting to put this performance behind him as quickly as possible.
This is undoubtedly a feeling shared by Johnson, who must be wondering what has happened to his side in recent weeks, as the Black Cats have gone from a run of 12 league games without a loss, to now losing four and drawing three of their last seven fixtures.
And, with just two games of their league campaign remaining, the Sunderland boss now must ensure that his side picks up at the very minimum one victory, if not two, against Plymouth Argyle and Northampton Town to confirm the Black Cats’ spot in the play-offs.