The training ground work that has added a crucial weapon to Sunderland's armoury in promotion race

On Thursday Lee Johnson was asked what the key had been in turning those all too frequent draws into wins.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 8:00 am

In a nutshell, the Head Coach said it was down to details.

Nowhere is that borne out better than Sunderland's superb recent record from set pieces.

All through their current unbeaten run, there have been big goals at crucial moments in games, of which Aiden O'Brien's effort at Bristol Rovers last week was merely the latest.

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Aiden O'Brien scores from a corner against Bristol Rovers

The aerial threat of Charlie Wyke has clearly been a big factor but what has also been noticeable is the consistency of delivery.

Jordan Jones, Grant Leadbitter, Max Power, Aiden McGeady and Chris Maguire have all produced at times, a reflection of the detailed work that has gone at the Academy of Light.

Wyke hasn't been the only player to benefit, either, with both Power and Dion Sanderson joining O'Brien in getting on the scoresheet from set plays during the current run.

Despite a raft of defensive injuries Sunderland also boast a very good record in defending set plays, which Johnson says is testament to the concentration of his players.

"It's a definite detail," he said.

"It's the detail of technique, your momentum, making sure you're stepping into it. The movement and the timing takes a lot of work.

"We played a set piece game today, for example, where there were probably about 20 set plays coming in.

"It's on video, as well, which we've got by the side of the pitch. That means that we can go through the set plays. Players have different ways of learning. Some by doing it, some by watching it, and most learn by feeling it.

"The boys have been good with that because if I'm honest, it's probably the most boring part of being a footballer.

"I hated it, apart from the attacking ones because I took them! With the defensive ones, you can find yourself thinking about what you're doing later, all of that.

"It does take concentration and when you do that it can bear fruit, especially with a group like ours where we have the threats both in terms of the delivery and the attacking prowess."

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