Lee Johnson delighted as Sunderland see off Fleetwood without hitting top gear

Lee Johnson on the touchline for Sunderland
Lee Johnson on the touchline for Sunderland (PA Wire)
22:17pm, Tue 23 Feb 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson was delighted his side secured another three points without hitting top gear in a 2-0 victory over Fleetwood.

The Black Cats made it three Sky Bet League One wins in succession for the first time this season to climb up to fifth in the table.

Aiden O’Brien’s header just after the hour put Sunderland on course for victory before captain Max Power added the second with a header of his own with eight minutes left.

Johnson said: “First half I thought they started the better but I’m just looking at the statistics there and we’re playing against a good side who haven’t had a shot on goal. That shows the control we had in the game.

“There were times in the first half where I wanted us to play forward quicker, we didn’t quite have the zip to our game that we had against Burton and that’s understandable given the amount of games we’ve had.

“So you’ve got to win games in different ways.

“It was a bit flat to begin with and I think that’s where you need your crowd, but at the same time the cohesive patterns of play, the control we had from good players, meant that we were always going to tire the opposition down and when you’ve got the ball, the opposition can’t score.”

The victory is the second since Kyril Louis-Dreyfus’ takeover of the club was confirmed last Thursday.

Johnson said: “I think it has lifted everyone. It’s my job to flatten the waves and make sure there’s a consistency of performance.

“Kyril coming in and setting out his plans verbally, and the actions on the back of that, leads us in a direction.

“That messaging has to come from the top and then we become disciples of that message. The philosophy stays the same because that’s what we believe in and that’s why I was recruited.”

Fleetwood barely troubled Sunderland goalkeeper Lee Burge, even though the visitors did have their moments in the final third and saw plenty of the ball.

Fleetwood boss Simon Grayson was disappointed at the way his side lost the game, even though he was not majorly flattened by the performance.

Grayson signed Aiden McGeady, who set up the opening goal, during his summer as Sunderland manager in 2017.

He said: “I don’t think there was too much in the game first half to be honest and that’s not easy because these are a good side, on a good run.

“We kept Charlie Wyke quiet, McGeady quiet, we nullified them and there didn’t seem too much in it. Sunderland didn’t have too many chances, we didn’t have too many chances.

“This was our second defeat, but was it a 2-0 game?

“We had chances and there wasn’t a lot in it. We didn’t have a save to make until we pushed on looking for the equaliser.

“There are encouraging signs…(but I’m) disappointed in the manner of the goals we conceded.

“I know Aiden and that spark is why I signed him. It wasn’t really that piece that undid us. It was more the centre-back switching off a bit, flat footed.

“O’Brien got in front for the goal. You have to defend your 18-yard box.

“Box to box we were quite solid, did what we needed to do but in both boxes we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Sign up to our newsletter