SUNDERLAND head coach Gus Poyet hailed his makeshift defence for keeping a clean sheet in today’s Tyne-Wear derby success.
The decision to replace Connor Wickham, rather than match-winner Adam Johnson, with Will Buckley in the closing stages at St James’s Park wasn’t the only decision from Poyet which proved to be inspired.
Sunderland were dealt an almighty blow in the warm-up when Anthony Reveillere suffered a serious injury.
With on-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates the only defender on the bench, Poyet was forced into a reshuffle, with 33-year-old skipper John O’Shea moving to left-back.
“We lost our only main full-back before the game and John O’Shea went to left-back for the first time since he left Manchester United, probably,” added Poyet.
“We had Seba Coates, who had to jump in after the warm-up. It was a very, very unique and strange back four for Sunderland today, but we kept a clean sheet.
“Somehow, we were all there, everybody was defending well, trying to mark well, doing the right things, the basics and hoping that somebody would stand up.
“And Adam Johnson did it for us.
“There were plenty of very good performances for us.”
* Don’t miss tomorrow’s derby special souvenir Sunderland Echo – celebrating today’s four-in-a-row triumph