Sunderland Under-23s boss hopes for momentum after spirited fightback against Leicester City

Josh Maja gets his shirt pulled by a Leicester defender. Picture by Frank Reid

Josh Maja gets his shirt pulled by a Leicester defender. Picture by Frank Reid

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Elliott Dickman praised the character shown by his Sunderland Under-23 side after they twice fought back against Leicester City.

Admiral Muskwe put the visitors in front after he rounded Sunderland keeper Max Stryjek, only for Josh Maja to score a sublime chip to draw the Black Cats level.

Muskwe proved a real thorn in the side of the Sunderland defence and scored his second goal six minutes into the second half, with Maja again called upon to get Dickman’s side out of trouble.

His penalty two minutes from the end rescued a morale-boosting point for Sunderland, who had gone into the Premier League 2 game on the back of three straight league defeats, a run Dickman was pleased to break.

Dickman: “I hope this gives us some momentum. I said to them ‘fair play for sticking in there and showing some character’.

“We have now broken that losing run in the league with this draw. Now we need to build on it ahead of some tough games coming up.

“We showed good character to come back twice and I’m pleased we did that – we showed some fight to want to get back into it.

“We tried to open them up and create some chances. As long as I can see those positives, it is something to build on.

“We had to make sure we were focused and disciplined when we didn’t have the ball. That is a big area we need to be better in.

“We want to play but need to make sure we are not vulnerable to the counter-attack, which at times we were.”

Despite not winning in the league since December – a run stretching back seven games – Sunderland remain sixth with 22 points from 19 games.

Dickman also praised the impact of 18-year-old forward Maja.

Dickman added: “Josh’s first was a great goal. He has that knack in and around the box to take chances.

“It was a good bit of play from Joel Asoro too and Josh took his penalty with confidence.

“His goal tally is going up which can only be good for his confidence.”