Sunderland chief Lee Johnson insists his side are still in with a chance of promotion – despite a sorry showing in their play-off first leg at Lincoln.
The Black Cats were beaten 2-0 by the impressive Imps. The hosts were roared on by a crowd of 3,000 at Sincil Bank, with two second half goals clinching a potentially crucial advantage for Michael Appleton’s side.
But Johnson maintains there is still all to play for at the Stadium of Light.
And he knows his players must put in the performance of the season to extend their season to one more game.
Lincoln’s fans created a fine atmosphere as their team aims to send the club into the second tier for the first time since 1961.
But before they can dream of Wembley, they have to get over the line in front of 10,000 home fans on Wearside.
“I truly believe we can still do it,” said a defiant Johnson.
“We need to have a big, big night on Saturday. There’s no room for error at all. We know our home fans can buoy us on.
“I trust my team to score. Today, we didn’t, but that was down to a good goalkeeping display and maybe some poor finishing from us.
“But we’re still in this.”
His opposite number Appleton says his side have “nothing to fear” ahead of the second leg.
That’s because his side have the best away record in the division this term. And he’s in confident mood ahead of the rematch on Saturday.
“I think we’ve got the best away record in the league and we’ve got nothing to fear,” he said.
“I think the players will thrive on the fact there’ll be 10,000 people in the stadium.
“We know we’re against a good side but, ultimately, if we can put a performance in – 10 per cent better than tonight as I didn’t think we were really at it – we should give ourselves a great chance of going through.”
The winners are likely to face Blackpool at Wembley in the final on Sunday, May 30 after the Tangerines beat Oxford 3-0 in their first leg.
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