11 February 2023

Tony Mowbray hails Sunderland for digging deep to secure win over Reading

11 February 2023

Tony Mowbray felt Sunderland were “dull” against Reading, but hailed his side for digging deep to snatch a late winner and move to within a point and place of the top six.

Patrick Roberts struck late on for the Black Cats against the struggling Royals, who are now six without a win in the Championship and looking anxiously over their shoulder.

On the back of the midweek FA Cup replay against Fulham, Mowbray sensed fatigue in his players but was delighted they found a way to win.

“If I’m honest, I felt brains were a bit dull today,” said the Sunderland head coach.

“We knew what to expect from Reading and knew it would be tough to get through them, and yet I felt the team was a bit dull.

“We found a way, let’s put the points in the bag, we won’t over-analyse the performance but we have to be a bit braver.”

Sunderland struggled to break down organised Reading in a poor first half but were much improved after the break and created a string of openings before Roberts struck on 84 minutes, pouncing on a Baba Rahmann mistake.

Mowbray said: “In the first half we struggled, we were too slow and didn’t get through the lines. But I sit here with three points in the bag. We’ll just keep going.

“I can’t say we were really good at this or that, but we kept a clean sheet against a team that can give you problems.”

Despite being just a point shy of the top six, Mowbray insists it’s still too early to get carried away.

He said: “The young players are on a journey and are learning and together they found a way.

“When we get to single figure games, then it’s squeaky bum time as they say, you have to be in the fight at that stage.”

Reading dropped to 18th after their third defeat in five games and are now just nine points above the relegation places.

Boss Paul Ince was frustrated with the defeat but leapt to the defence of Baba, whose mistake led to Roberts’ late winner.

Ince said: “Joe (Lumley) has made a couple of good saves and there was one over the bar but apart from that it never looked like they were going to do anything else, then you have the killer punch and you end up losing the game you shouldn’t lose.

“In the first half we nullified them. You come here and there’s great support, we knew it would be tough. The first half we needed to quieten the fans, and we did that, and we had opportunities where if we’d been a bit more precise on the transition we’d have opened them up.

“There was a bit of unrest in the crowd at half-time and half our job was done. Of course they’ll have chances but you think you’ve weathered the worst of it, then make a mistake and lose the game.

“It’s an individual mistake but we make mistakes as one. We’re one. Baba is devastated in there but we’re a team. You can do this and that on the training ground but you can’t coach against individual mistakes. He’s devastated, it hurts him, he feels like he’s let us down but he hasn’t.”

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