Sunderland character delights Phil Parkinson after another clean sheet and win



Posted Sunday, February 16, 2020 by PA

Sunderland character delights Phil Parkinson after another clean sheet and win

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson saluted his players’ determination and character after they held on for a 1-0 win at Oxford that further boosted their promotion chances.

Centre-back Jordan Willis claimed what proved to be the winning goal in the third minute, though the final touch may have come off defender John Mousinho.

It was the Black Cats’ seventh clean sheet in their last eight League One games – and seventh win in nine outings – and Parkinson said the team had to work hard to get the three points.

“We defended very well and defending starts from the front,” Parkinson said.

“We showed a strong character today. Our concentration levels were great and we dug really deep to get this result. It was a real team effort.

“Chris’s delivery is great and I’m pleased Jordan got on the end of it, but the big thing today was the character we showed.

“Oxford have as many attacking options as any team in our league, so we had to be organised, and the biggest cheers our fans gave were for our players putting their bodies on the line.

“We’ve had a tough week with our last three games, and we’ve got a nice free week now this week to recharge the batteries, which we need.”

Oxford manager Karl Robinson felt his players did enough to have won the game.

Robinson said: “I thought in every area of the pitch we dominated, but you are reliant on the ball dropping to you, and it never did.

“We knocked the ball around aggressively and positively and we probably tested Sunderland more than anyone else has in this great run they’re on.

“What more can my players do? They gave everything they could, and not one of them underperformed in my opinion.”

It was the first time that Robinson had gone with three centre-backs in Rob Dickie, Elliott Moore and Mousinho.

“We’re not frightened to try things,” Robinson said. “I’ll have to look at it to see whether we use it again.

“It was great too to see Cameron Brannagan back to his best, and it reminds us all what we are missing when he’s not there.

“We gave everything to the cause – it’s very frustrating that we’ve just fallen short.”

Oxford United have dropped to 11th in League One after looking at one stage as though they would challenge for automatic promotion.

But Robinson insisted: “This team is good enough to go on a run to make up the difference we need – we’ve just got to find it as soon as possible.”

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