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'Still got another gear': Sunderland boss delivers this message after climbing back into the League One top two

Lee Johnson hailed a ‘professional’ performance from his Sunderland side, and says they still have another gear to find after climbing back into the automatic promotion places.

By Phil Smith
Monday, 27th December 2021, 3:13 pm
Updated Monday, 27th December 2021, 3:13 pm

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Wigan Athletic have two games in hand on Sunderland, but the Black Cats cut the gap to Rotherham United at the top of the League One table to a single point.

A Ross Stewart penalty and a clever Elliot Embleton finish established a 2-0 lead at half time, before an own goal secured a third in the second half.

Doncaster’s squad had been heavily hit by injury and a COVID-19 outbreak in the build up, and Johnson was pleased to see his side capitalise with a clinical display.

Elliot Embleton scores Sunderland's second goal at Doncaster

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“It was really professional from us,” Johnson said.

“We knew it was a bit of sticky wicket for Doncaster in terms of the players they had out, though of course we do as well.

“But I remember being at Oldham and it's tough when you lose three or four players, especially against a club like Sunderland.

“We had to be professional, find control.

“The early goal helped and then I felt we forced it a bit too much, we let them off the hook a bit by trying that goal ball too often, too early. The second goal came at a really good time, it was getting a bit frustrating.

“From there the control we had was really good.”

A positive day in the promotion push was overshadowed by the news that Nathan Broadhead could be ruled out for the rest of the season, with a replacement in the January window now crucial.

“It's a disaster, we're going to need help in January,” Johnson said.

“We've got ourselves in a position where we're in the coattails of the leader, with WIgan obviously having games in hand.

“There's big expectations here and we're going to need to produce. I still think we've got another gear in us, I think we can hit top gear by adding quality [in January], getting players back, and keep hammering down on the philosophy.

“When we played simply today, which is the hardest thing to do, we looked a really good side.”

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