Lee Johnson delivers this verdict on Sunderland win and Dan Neil's 'lump in the throat' moment
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Neil's stunning strike gave Sunderland the lead against Accrington Stanley at the Stadium of Light, but they were pegged back by Michael Nottingham's set-piece strike.
Carl Winchester's second-half winner secured the points for the Black Cats, who maintained their position at the top of the table.
"It was a difficult game and I knew it would be, I know how well John does with this team," Johnson said.
"They're a big, strong, aggressive and good side. We gave away too many needless set plays in the first half, giving them away when they opponent is facing away from goal. That's what they want and what they play for, and they cause you problems.
"I did think we were very slick when we broke through the press and my frustration is probably that we didn't score more goals.
"However, we're still a team that's growing and in a learning phase.
"It was a great goal from Dan Neil and that was a real win for the academy and everybody involved in his development.
"It was definitely a lump in the throat moment as that went in because he's such a lovely lad. He's got to continue to stay focused, you can't lose that but I really don't think he will.
"It's brilliant to see how he's developing," he added.
"We've worked so hard with him, on stuff like his shoulder position so he can play forward.
"He's got that ability, and you see that every day in training, so it's really nice to see it come to fruition.
"It wasn't so much the finish for me but the way he manipulates the space to create it. That shows real quality and I'm sure his family and the academy will be very proud.
"It builds the story for us, that there is a pathway and we will get you through if you perform.
"That's why it's so nice he is doing what he did."
Johnson praised his side for getting the better of another opponent who have had a strong start to the campaign, but insists there is still a lot of room for improvement.
"We've got so much growth still in us, and we need to keep dealing with these challenges," he said.
"We've been tested this season against strong sides. I don't think we've played any teams in the bottom half yet, which shows how strong the league is.
"I think the fans see that, as well.
"It was good entertainment, I'd have liked to see us get one or two more but I'm sure they would say the same.
"We need to keep progressing, learning, and finding a way to win.
"That's what's impressive about so far, we've shown quality but we've also battled and I think the fans have definitely played their part in that.
"The fans can see the commitment, and the youth we've got in the team.
"We can all see the mistakes but it's young players and they're seeing other young players recover, and that can be really powerful moving forward."