Number of draws a growing concern for Sunderland boss as Jack Ross says 'level criticism at me, not my players'
Jack Ross cut a frustrated figure after his Sunderland side dropped more points in the race for automatic promotion but he insists his players deserve credit for showing character and resilience.
Ross, keen to take the pressure off his players, praised his side for not buckling but concedes the amount of draws is a concern.
The Black Cats were staring down the barrel of a defeat to lowly Accrington Stanley before super sub Chris Maguire helped transform the game, goals from George Honeyman and Aiden McGeady salving a point.
In the end they had to make do with another point, their 14th of the season.
Sunderland climbed to third ahead of the Saturday fixtures but are three points off Barnsley and level on games. They are nine off leaders Luton with just a game now in hand.
“I don’t want to be repetitive and sit here all the time saying it is frustration, but there is,” said Ross.
“It is a bit like Tuesday, a peculiar set of emotions, because for most of the game we played quite well, for a short spell we had the polar opposite.
“It was like that against Blackpool, it is about making sure in those periods that we are more resilient.
“The character and the resilience of the players was very obvious again.”
The Sunderland boss has stressed to his players not to get caught up in the growing concern over the number of draws
Pressed on the damaging number of draws, Ross added: “There has to be an element of realism about not winning these games.
“I can’t continue to say it doesn’t matter, of course it does.
“The reality is, if you look at the number of draws, if you had won half of them and lost half of them, you would be in a better position and a position right up there.
“You can’t affect what has gone, you just need to continue to have faith in what we are doing and make sure we capitalise on opportunities.
“We have created more in the last couple of games, and not get caught up on the hysteria around us drawing games.
“That is easier said than done.
“If people are going to level criticism then do it at me, not my players. They have been immensely resilient this season.
“They could have buckled easily, very easily and I’m sure other teams and players have in the past.
“They didn’t, that is to their immense credit.”
With only 15 games left, the pressure will only increase.
Ross said: “I thought the fans were good for large parts of the game, the other side is that tangible frustration, you can feel it.
“That is challenging as you can almost touch it.
“In the periods of the game like Tuesday and last night, it is more frustration than anything else, but in terms of backing us and coming back from two goals is terrific.
“It is just an example that you can’t have one without the other.
“It is about learning to cope with it.”