LYNDEN GOOCH says Sunderland’s satisfaction at winning promotion would not be dampened because a place in the Championship came via the play-offs rather than a finishing position in the top two.

The Black Cats’ hopes of securing automatic promotion were finally extinguished when they lost to Blackpool on Tuesday night, so the priority in the club’s remaining two matches is to cement a place in the play-offs and turn around an alarming run of form that has seen Lee Johnson’s side go seven matches without a win.

A victory at Plymouth Argyle tomorrow will guarantee Sunderland’s play-off spot ahead of a final-day home game with Northampton Town, and while there is understandable disappointment at having missed out on the top two, the message from the Black Cats camp is that the aim for the season has not changed.

The key ambition when the campaign began in September was to climb out of League One and into the Championship, and while the task has just become that little bit harder, the desired result is stil achievable.

“No matter what way you get promoted, it would be an unbelievable achievement for us,” said Gooch. “If it’s the play-offs, that’s the way it’s got to be done.

“We’ve broken the duck at Wembley so hopefully that will stand us in good stead with the experience from earlier in the season. We just need to take each game as it comes now and we can't get too far ahead - because we still need to solidify ourselves in the play-offs.”

Sunderland’s last victory came when they saw off promotion rivals Oxford United on Good Friday. Since then, they have drawn with Peterborough, Hull and Accrington and lost to Charlton, Wigan and Blackpool (twice).

They could not have picked a worse time to record their poorest run of the season, but having experienced plenty of highs and lows during his time as a Sunderland player, Gooch is adamant that things can quickly change.

“I think we just need to keep believing,” he said. “We need to keep trusting that what we're doing is right and keep working hard.

“I know it's a cliche and everyone probably says it, but the only way to get yourself out of tough positions is by working hard and trying to revert to basics. Obviously, we had chances against Blackpool to at least draw the game, but it’s not falling for us at the minute.

“Teams go through this sort of form. Obviously, it's a poor time to go through this run of form, but I've been here long enough to know what it's like.

“We’ve been in similar situations a couple of years ago, so we just need to get that next win on the board, regroup and get ready for the play-offs - obviously if we get that win.”

Sunderland’s final away game of the regular campaign takes them to Home Park to take on a Plymouth side that have nothing to play for in 18th position.

The Pilgrims conceded six goals to Charlton in their most recent home game, but sprung a major surprise when they won 2-1 on Wearside in mid-January.

“Obviously, we're coming into town and everybody wants to beat Sunderland in their stadium,” said Gooch. “We need to go there in the right frame of mind and know that nothing is going to be given to us. We need to get three points and know we’re there.”