Frustrated Jack Ross says Sunderland had to manage the final stages of the game better having being pegged back for a point in a dramatic finale against Peterborough United.
Sunderland’s automatic promotion hopes are now in doubt after Matt Godden cancelled out Max Power’s late opener in added-on time.
The Black Cats struggled to deal with the physical presence of Ivan Toney when he came on as a second half sub.
Toney held the ball up well and teed up Godden who then fired low past Jon McLaughlin to snatch a deserved point.
Given Portsmouth beat Coventry City 2-1 and Barnsley thrashed Plymouth Argyle 3-0 away, the Black Cats are now fourth, four points adrift of the Tykes with only three games left.
Ross said: “Frustrating is the word, we came to a difficult venue against a good team with a lot to play for, the conditions were testing and they didn’t leave anything out there.
“To push and get the goal late on we need to be able to see the game out, we haven’t done so.”
On struggling to deal effectively with Toney’s physical presence, Ross added: “He was on the park before we scored our goal.
“Both teams made changes to affect the game in a positive sense, it was very obvious both teams wanted to and needed to win the game.
“Our changes were geared towards that, as were Darren Ferguson’s, but getting yourself ahead in that position, it is vital you see the game out.”
Hot sunshine baked the ABAX Stadium during the 90 minutes but Ross felt his players handled the warm conditions well
Ross added: “I couldn’t have asked anything more from the players, they were on their feet at the end.
“If there is a touch of fatigue then that is when sometimes the decision making goes slightly awry."
He added: "We will look at it from a football point of view, how we conceded the goal but we have three games that we need to go and win.
“The situation has been taken out of our hands, win those three games and see where it takes us.
“It is important when we come back in Tuesday we are focused to go and do that.”