Lee Johnson does not look back in anger after Sunderland are pegged back



Posted Sunday, December 05, 2021 by PA

Lee Johnson does not look back in anger after Sunderland are pegged back

Lee Johnson was in no mood to be critical of his injury-hit Sunderland team after watching Oxford leave Wearside with a point.

Sunderland had chances in the second half to earn the win that would have lifted them level on points with Sky Bet League One leaders Rotherham, with Ross Stewart and Nathan Broadhead both hitting the woodwork.

But a third win from four matches did not arrive and Oxford, who welcomed back six players to the squad following Covid isolation, were more satisfied with the outcome in the end.

Sunderland’s young German Leon Dajaku, on loan from Union Berlin, stroked in the opener in the seventh minute, only for Matty Taylor to level nine minutes before half-time.

Black Cats head coach Johnson, without eight senior players, said: “There was effort in both halves. We played better second half. The commitment and effort was there in both.

“There were seven academy graduates in and around the squad today, which highlights the injury scenario, but you have to credit these boys for how hard they have worked against a very good Oxford side.

“We flipped the shape second half, a different square peg in a different round hole, but we couldn’t get that ball over the line. Whether that was good goalkeeping, bad finishing, the numerous corners, we just failed to get that magic final delivery in.

“I was pleased with the second half performance, I really was.

“Expectation is huge here, rightly so, but there are sides who are pretty close in this division too. It is a close league.

“You have to be consistent, creative and you have to do everything you can to score twos and threes. I think we did enough today to score the twos and threes but for whatever reason it didn’t happen.”

Oxford only had 13 senior players available a week earlier when they drew with Rotherham because of the club’s Covid crisis.

Goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, Anthony Forde, Elliott Moore and Taylor were all back in the starting line-up.

Oxford boss Karl Robinson thinks his squad deserved credit for their approach, despite frustration with the way his side faded after the restart.

He said: “I was quite bored second half, it was one-dimensional in all aspects of our game. First half there was only one team in it, we were very good.

“Credit to Lee, they changed shape second half, we played into that press they had and I said it was unacceptable to the players at the end.

“But we have been here in the past, we know what it is like, so we would have come out with a point beforehand. We are angry with ourselves how we played the second half.

“We can say the opposition played well but I am not one to look at the opposition, I just don’t think we played well and they have every right to say they played well.

“At the same time these had a terrible injury list. Let’s not kid anyone, they had big players unavailable. It was two teams not at their best with players not at peak performance. We will use Covid as an excuse for second half.”

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