IF Max Power thinks back to London Road almost a month ago, he must still ponder what might have been. With three minutes remaining, he drilled a lovely finish inside the bottom corner to finally break the deadlock.

Sunderland’s battle for the automatic promotion places was still very much alive. A victory at a very difficult place, against a Peterborough team still hopeful of sneaking back into the play-off places, was on the cards and it was a performance that is likely to have breathed new life into the Black Cats’ surge.

No sooner had the celebrations died down after hitting the net, with Power turning away with his team-mates to jump for joy with another sell-out away following, Sunderland’s hopes were immediately dashed. Peterborough United’s Matt Gooden delivered the crucial blow.

Suddenly Sunderland were heading back to the dressing room smarting, even relieved that they didn’t end up losing, and it was a dramatic finale to that game which really turned things against Jack Ross’ side. A home draw with Portsmouth was followed by defeats to Fleetwood and Southend, and a play-off place was the outcome. Wembley beckons on Sunday.

That ending to a campaign when Sunderland wanted to finish in the top two had an impact on the mood around the place, but under Ross and inside the dressing room the players found it within themselves to find extra belief for a play-off battle with Pompey.

"That was probably the game which meant we missed out on automatic when you think about it,” said Power. “To score so late on, on the pitch, we're all thinking as players ‘we're going up’ so to concede so quickly after that, was tough because although we could still do it, we felt as if maybe we had blown it and of course, we then drew against Portsmouth.

“For the Fleetwood and Southend games, obviously, we knew what our fate was and it is hard, of course you want to go out and win every game but when you know what is coming, maybe performance levels drop off a little bit.

“We knew we had to get ready for what would be an important three weeks for the football club. We have come back from that dip and given ourselves an opportunity to get promoted.”

It is not the first time this season that Sunderland have found themselves disappointed and in need of a lift. On plenty of occasions they have fallen behind and battled back in matches to claim a point and sometimes even three.

Having managed to find an extra gear in the two semi-final legs against a tough and dangerous team like Portsmouth, Sunderland must now make sure they don’t let their standards slip at Wembley when they look to finish off the promotion job.

Power said: "The disappointment not going up automatically was obviously still there but at the same time, we knew the season was not over. We knew we had a second chance and could still go up.

“It shows the strength of the squad and especially the manager in picking us up. To get to this point, it needs commending. We go into Sunday on the back of the Portsmouth ties which we knew would be tough especially with the second leg at their place. We have come through with flying colours and hopefully we can achieve what we all want on Sunday."

This weekend will be extra special for the Power family. The 25-year-old from the Wirral is looking to finish Sunday night with a third promotion of his career, and he is hoping that it forms part of a delightful double.

The midfielder started his footballing journey with Tranmere aged eight when he decided to play for Rovers rather than Liverpool.

It was a decision that seems strange given the difference between the two, but the midfielder from the Wirral has family ties to Prenton Park, so he is banking on Tranmere sealing a return to League One after a play-off final against Newport tomorrow.

"Hopefully, it will be a good weekend for Tranmere as well,” said Power. “It is another club which has suffered relegations and fought back. I will be keeping one eye on that. My dad, Carl, is Tranmere through and through but half my family are Liverpool.

"Tranmere was the club that gave me my opportunity, paving the way to have a football career. It is a club I am delighted to see on the way back up. Dad is doing the double header this weekend, so I am sure he will be feeling rough on Monday morning!”