SUNDERLAND captain George Honeyman has described how losing late at Wembley in the League One-play off final has left them “feeling like wallies”.

In an honest interview in the mixed zone after Charlton’s dramatic winner condemned the Black Cats to another season in the third tier of English football, Honeyman also suggested that the result hurts more than the back-to-back relegations.

Sunderland had been expected to secure automatic promotion this season under Jack Ross, having dropped down to that level for only the second time in the club’s history.

But in the end a campaign that saw them forced to settle for a play-off place then ended in further disappointment when they suffered Wembley woe for the second time eight weeks.

This time penalties were required – unlike when they lost to Portsmouth in the Checkatrade Trophy final – but Charlton scored with just six seconds remaining of the stoppage-time at the end of the match when Patrick Bauer hit the winner.

“That’s the toughest thing, seeing the fans,” said Honeyman, after seeing 35,000 Sunderland fans head home disappointed.

“Seeing the scenes over the weekend, coming down in their numbers again. We were going around clapping them at the end, for supporting us, and it’s hard.

“You almost feel a bit embarrassed because of the result. We have sent them home disappointed. I know we have given them a lot to smile about this year but ultimately we have not achieved what we set out to do.”

He added: “I’m not embarrassed by our team’s efforts, how we handled it. I am very proud of that. I was just desperate to be that team celebrating, it’s too late now.

“It’s embarrassing going around again at the end seeing another team celebrate, and we are the wallies on the pitch at the end who have got beat again.”

Sunderland had been gifted a crazy early lead when Naby Sarr’s back pass rolled underneath goalkeeper Dillion Phillips’ foot and into the empty net.

But rather than build on that Charlton improved and equalised with ten minutes left of the first half through Ben Purrington and were rewarded deep into stoppage-time when they hit the winner to seal a Championship return.

Honeyman said: “It’s a really cruel way to suffer defeat but ultimately we fell short. It’s hard to take. We never really settled. Max Power was injured earlier, then Luke O’Nien’s had to go off for a bit, we just didn’t really settle and I think we have to adapt better to those situations. What can you say?

“I remember asking the ref how long was left after they scored and he was just shaking his head. That’s horrible to take. It was just tough. Two Wembley outings in a year and to fall short is not a nice feeling.

“What could have been such a successful season doesn’t feel like that now let me tell you.

“The manager thanked us for our efforts, like he said before the game and he repeated that after it. That was about it. It’s not really the time to analyse the game. We have had this feeling once before and it’s horrible to experience again.”

Play-off final heartache followed the successive relegation campaigns that have seen Sunderland fall from the Premier League and into League One.

Honeyman, the Sunderland skipper who has graduated through the ranks at the Academy of Light, said: “I think this probably feels worse at the moment because it was within our grasp.

“Relegation last year was a long horrible battle. This one was a last minute defeat, it’s really tough to take. There’s not much to be said after a last-minute defeat in a play-off final.

“It’s a bit early, we have to go away rest, take our minds off it, and come back fresh pre-season and give it a good go again. In terms of we need to improve to get better it’s a bit early for that. We need to recharge because it’s been a long old season.

“Promotion has to be the aim. We don’t want another eight months to get here again, we need to dust ourselves down and go again.”