Lee Johnson reacts to Sunderland's win against Accrington, and the 'lump in throat' moment in the match

By James Hunter

Lee Johnson says there is still plenty of room for improvement despite seeing his side make it five wins out of six to move two points clear at the top of the League One table.

Goals from Dan Neil and Carl Winchester either side of half-time gave the Black Cats a 2-1 victory against Accrington Stanley at the Stadium of Light, with Michael Nottingham replying for the visitors in the first period.

Johnson was pleased to see his team pick up where they left off before the international break, but accepts there are still elements of their game that need further work.

READ MORE: Sunderland's Lee Johnson explains his 'risky decision' to throw Ron-Thorben Hoffman in at the deep end

"I thought it was a difficult game. I knew it would be a difficult game, I went to see them last week and Accrington are a big, strong, aggressive, side," he said.

"We gave away too many set-plays in the first half, and that's what they want - that's what they play for.

"But I also felt we were very slick once we broke their press.

"The frustration was that we didn't score more goals, however we are still a team that is growing and in a learning phase.

"And one thing I would say is that I didn't feel we were composed enough in that last 20 minutes, whereas we had been so composed in the first 70 minutes.

"That's something we need to improve on.

"We have to keep on continuing our journey, honing our performances.

"I didn't really like our inability to apply pressure to the ball in the last 10-15 minutes, and we have to find a way to do that even when we have the extra body at the back because you can still do that.

"We have to flatten the waves, keep learning, keep progressing, and find a way to win."

Dan Neil of Sunderland (R) celebrates after scoring the opening goal (Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

Academy product Neil's goal was his first for the club at senior level and it came with the 19-year-old midfielder's family watching from the stands, with Johnson admitting it was a 'lump in the throat moment'.

Johnson said: "Dan Neil scored a great goal, I'm delighted with that one because it was a win for the academy and for everyone involved in his development.

"It was definitely a lump in the throat moment when he put that one in."


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.