21 September 2021

Lee Johnson says Sunderland ‘nowhere near peaking’ after polished win at Wigan

21 September 2021

Lee Johnson insists his Sunderland side ‘haven’t peaked, nowhere near’ after seeing them book their place in the last 16 of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 victory at Wigan

The clash pitted the top two in Sky Bet League One against each other, but a total of 17 changes – eight to Sunderland, nine to Wigan – showed where the contest lay on the respective list of priorities.

Right from the off, Sunderland were first to every ball, with Aiden O’Brien seeing a 25-yard effort flash just wide of Ben Amos’ right-hand post.

Nathan Broadhead did open the scoring on 26 minutes with a low shot, before Dennis Cirkin saw a rasping drive tipped over by Amos.

The win was sealed nine minutes after the restart when Luke O’Nien finished off a lovely team move with a fine finish.

“It was so good, I’m really happy,” enthused Johnson. “It showed how hard these players have worked in training that we looked so fluid.

“I thought the second-half performance was outstanding. We had total control, and I hardly felt we were in any danger.

“The thing is, we can only get better. We haven’t peaked, nowhere near.

“It’ll probably take until game 15 or 20 because we recruited late.”

For Wigan boss Leam Richardson, it was a first defeat since the opening-day loss at Sunderland, from whom his side took over leadership of League One at the weekend on goal difference.

“First and foremost, that certainly wasn’t the result we wanted,” he acknowledged.

“But on the flip side, there were a lot of lads who needed 90 minutes, and the bench was full of academy graduates.

“We know the campaign is going to be so tough, with so many three-game weeks on the way.

“We need as many lads up to speed in terms of match minutes, sharpness and decision making, and there’s no better way to do that than  a very competitive game.”

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