Elliott Dickman praised his Sunderland U23 side’s attitude and application in the 4-1 demolition of Leicester City to boost survival hopes.
The second string moved above relegation rivals Derby County and Manchester United with victory at the Stadium of Light, thanks to clinical finishing from Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka, Jack Diamond and a Luke Molyneux brace.
The Foxes are going for the title but Sunderland were full value for the win, bouncing back from last week’s 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.
Coach Dickman said: “It was never going to be an easy game, the big thing for me was the reaction from the lads to the defeat at Old Trafford last week, we were really disappointed with that performance.
“But we got that reaction and the attitude from every single one of them was spot on, I can’t single out any of the players, it was a really strong team performance, all four goals were good - clinical finishing.
“Hopefully we will still be out the bottom two when we head into the final game because then it is in our hands.
“More of the same is the message to the players.”
Sunderland end the season away to Swansea City on Monday, April 23.
Dickman added: “I was really pleased with how the team performed. Bali Mumba, just 16 years old, he has done really well in the middle against a very strong and physical side.
“For Bali, who is still at school, he has done well. Him, Benji, Jack Diamond, Elliot [Embleton], Lee Connelly comes on, all young players.
“The main message is we have to get that consistency.”