With the season winding down and the club still in a dire position, Lynden Gooch has battled his way back in the Sunderland lineup.
Gooch made his second consecutive start on Monday, providing an assist for the club in his second appearance in three days. However, the contribution wasn’t enough as Sunderland fell, 3-1, to Sheffield Wednesday.
“I’ve just kept my head down and worked hard and obviously the gaffer has given me another chance,” Gooch said. “I can keep making an impact like I’ve done in the past two games, but I’m disappointed we didn’t get anything today.
“The commitment, desire, everything was there. For some reason, we just can’t stop conceding from crosses, set pieces. It’s extremely disappointing but we have to just try and win the next game, keep going.”
Gooch’s assist came in the 61st minute, as the U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder did well to keep possession down the right-hand side. His cross found the head of fellow youngster George Honeyman, leveling the score at one apiece just two minutes after Sheffield Wednesday had gone ahead.
Sheffield Wednesday scored a go-ahead goal seven minutes later, but Sunderland had a chance to equalize as Gooch was taken down in the box. Unfortunately for the Black Cats, the referee opted not to award Sunderland a penalty kick and, five minutes later, the opposition scored their third to seal the win.
“The Lynden Gooch decision, the penalty, everyone in the stadium saw that as a penalty,” said Sunderland boss Chris Coleman. “I’ve seen it on the playback, it’s a penalty. When I saw it in real time, it was a penalty.”
“Definitely (frustrated), especially after getting back in the game 1-1,” Gooch said. “At 2-1 we should have had a penalty and they should have been down to 10 men for 20 minutes, but it’s just our luck at the minute I guess. It’s disappointing.”
The good news for Gooch is that he remains in Coleman’s plans, even if the manager himself admits he wasn’t expecting to play Gooch in Monday’s match. However, after drawing a penalty kick in a standout effort in Friday’s 4-1 win over Derby County, both Gooch and Honeyman cracked the Black Cats XI again.
“In my mind, before these two games in close proximity, I thought I’d change the team, but they did so well on Friday,” Coleman said. “They had some spring in their step yesterday in training and I thought it would be harsh to leave them out of the team. I was right to do that, because they performed again.
“Overall, in the two games, I thought that’s the type of level of performance that you look for, and if you produce that week in week out throughout the season, you’ll be okay. Clearly we haven’t but we are what we are.”
Following Monday’s defeat, Sunderland sits 23rd in the Championship table, level with last-place Burton. The Black Cats are currently five points from safety, with the teams above them still having a game in hand.
Gooch, though, isn’t giving up on the team’s hopes of staying in the division as the club returns to action on Saturday against Leeds United.
“We just have to keep the faith, keep going, and keep putting in good performances,” he said. “Hopefully, the luck will turn.”