‘I felt confident’: Michael Appleton reveals why he knew Lincoln City would beat Sunderland
Michael Appleton admits he was confident of securing victory against Sunderland - having instructed his side to ensure they netted first.
The victory over the Black Cats was Appleton’s first since succeeding the popular Danny and Nicky Cowley at Sincil Bank, and only Sunderland’s second defeat of the term.
But the former Oxford United chief admitted his side were always confident of victory - providing they got the first goal and then saw out the result.
“I think it had a little bit of everything,” said Appleton of the game.
“Keeping a clean sheet was key against a side who tend to score in most games they play in and were in a good vein of form with only one defeat in eight.
“I think it’s important you start games well, get on the front foot and ask questions of the opposition.
“The first goal in any game is crucial. Yes you have to show character to come from behind sometimes, but it gives you a platform.
“Sunderland then had to come out and that made the pitch bigger, but it suited us on the transition.
“I felt confident today coming into the stadium.
“You just sometimes get a feel for it and we were very confident.”
“I wouldn’t say they were poor, but they came up against a group of players and staff who knew it was a big game,” he continued.
“We knew we hadn’t been on a good run but the last two performances I have been happy with, bit by bit.
“They came up against a really motivated team who are really, really backed by their own fans.
“They came up short.”
And while Appleton wasn’t surprised with the result, he was somewhat taken aback by Sunderland’s style of play - which saw them opt for a more route one approach.
“It surprised me a little bit that we had to deal with a lot of direct play today,” he admitted.
“Obviously Wyke is a pivot for them and they do play into him and play off him, but we had to deal with a lot of stuff in the box.
“We had to do the basics right and we did them really well.”