Lee Johnson delivered this verdict on Sunderland's win at Oxford United and what pleased him most

Lee Johnson praised his side for taking full of advantage of Oxford United's second-half red to underline their automatic promotion credentials.

Saturday, 3rd April 2021, 11:21 am
Max Power celebrates his goal at the Stadium of Light

Mark Sykes was shown a second yellow card midway through a bad-tempered contest for a foul on Luke O'Nien, with the scores level at that stage.

Late goals from Aiden McGeady and Max Power secured three vital points for the Black Cats.

Johnson's side had started the game sluggishly and went behind to a superb strike from James Henry, before a moment of individual brilliance from Jordan Jones just before the break allowed Lynden Gooch to equalise.

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"We started the game well and bright, and I think then they took over considerably," Johnson said.

"They caused us a few problems and we had a 20-minute spell before then we took over last ten of the half.

"There was a few things we had to fix but it was also their quality, they are a good side and they can stretch you, which is what they did.

"We got the goal and it's the ying and yang of Jones and McGeady, isn't it?

"You get that exceptional, individual brilliance that we saw at least twice today, and of course there's times where you want them to get in a bit quicker and you want them to be industrious.

it's getting the balance at times risking it.

"Second half we were good and we managed the extra man really well. It's not easy to do that when they're getting eight or nine men the ball.

"You often get overloads in deep areas and that's something we consider a lot in our training.

"The boys executed that well today and we created some really good chances."

Late goals for Hull City and Peterborough United at Crewe Alexandra and Fleetwood Town respectively means the situation in the top three is unchanged, but Johnson says his side can only focus on their own results.

It was a wide-open contest for much of the game, and Johnson praised a good Oxford United side for the threat they posed.

He insisted that his team would not be distracted by results elsewhere.

"We can only do our bit," he said.

"You have to respect a good side, with lots of quality, and I thought it was a decent advert for two good footballing sides in League One.

"Sometimes it was a bit too open but when you have two sides trying to win the game, that can happen.

"We've always said we've got to win in different ways."

Sunderland now face Peterborough United on Monday, though both managers insisted post-match that it would not define the outcome of the promotion race.

Darren Ferguson said: “We can now look forward to a big game on Monday against Sunderland, live on the TV at home. It is just a shame there won’t be any fans to see it in the stadium.

"That game won’t define our season as there will still be a lot of points to play for.”