Sunderland's Alex Pritchard and Sheffield Wednesday's George Byers battle for the ball. Picture: PA
Darren Moore had mixed emotions after his side fell to a 1-0 defeat at Sunderland in the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final.
Only a Ross Stewart goal separated the two sides after the first 90 minutes of an eagerly anticipated tie between two of the biggest clubs in the third tier.
Wednesday found themselves swamped by a tidal wave of noise and emotion as the majority of the near-45,000 crowd roared on a lively home side.
The Black Cats were tenacious and energetic throughout the opening half - but they will only take a narrow advantage into Monday’s second leg at Hillsborough after Stewart grabbed the only goal of the game just before half-time.
Moore admitted his side found the going tough in the North East - but praised his players for keeping themselves in the game ahead of the second leg.
He told Sky Sports: “We knew it was going to be a tough game today, it lived up to the expectation.
“They put us under pressure - but credit to the boys.
“It was difficult for us to get a foothold in the game because they kept us under relentless pressure.
“I just thought at around the hour-mark, with the energy they put into the game, the pendulum swing in our favour.
“The first-half was a ferocious pace, they played ever so well Sunderland.
“But credit to my boys, they stayed at it, and we just had to make sure we stayed in the game and that’s what they’ve done.
Moore conceded Wednesday will have to improve on their performance at the Stadium of Light if they are to move to within 90 minutes of ensuring their stay in League One is limited to a single season.
“We are going to have to (play better).
“We are going to have to try and get back in the game and wrestle it back.
“We will have to play better than we did tonight and we will have a look at the game, look at areas where we could have been better.
“Then we will look to try and apply ourselves right on Monday.”