Grant Leadbitter reflects on ‘rash’ Sunderland performance and exactly what the Black Cats must now do

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Grant Leadbitter says it is all about cool heads after Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes were rocked on Saturday afternoon.

The Black Cats suffered a shock defeat to play-off chasing Coventry City at the Stadium of Light, shipping five goals in a remarkable contest.

It was the first time Sunderland have lost at home in the league all season.

The result saw the Black Cats drop to third in the table, though their automatic promotion fate remains in their own hands.

Leadbitter admitted that some ‘rash decisions’ were made but insists staying calm is crucial ahead of the visit of Doncaster Rovers on Good Friday.

“Mistakes cost us,” he said.

“It’s a bit flat but we can’t be. We’ve got five games to go and we know what we have to do.

“We really do have to stay calm in situations like this. I’ve been here before, I’m an experienced player, it’s all about getting our heads down, staying calm, there’s a long, long way to go.

“There’ll be plenty of twists and turns. In spells today we were disappointing, when you score four goals at home it’s disappointing to lose the game,” he added.

“I’ve played in over 500 games, many promotion races, and it’s a matter of staying calm. Sometimes the intensity of brilliant but you can’t make rash decisions, rash mistakes. You can’t keep doing that but it’s about staying together and staying cool.

“We’ve won games all season for a reason, we’ve only lost three times. It’s all about coming in on Monday morning with an intensity.”

After the visit of Doncaster Rovers, Sunderland face Peterborough United away on Easter Monday before the highly-anticipated clash with Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth.

The Black Cats remain in a strong position, then, but Leadbitter said the focus must purely be on producing a response against Doncaster.

He backed his side to do exactly that.

“We need to forget about that, [fate in our own hands], just concentrate on the next game. It’s all about the next game.

“The performances levels have got to go up and if we do that we’ll win games, I’m pretty sure of that.

“There’s no doubt about the character [of this group].

“The club has taken a battering [in recent seasons], the players have taken a battering, but this is a strong dressing room now. It’s about everyone staying together, coming in training on Monday and being right at it.”