Lee Johnson lists the positives Sunderland can take from their Peterborough United draw
Lee Johnson says there are 'loads of positives' for Sunderland even if he was left frustrated that they were unable to climb into the top two with a win at Peterborough United.
Johnson signalled his intent to take three points by pairing Ross Stewart up front with Charlie Wyke for his first Sunderland start, while both Aiden McGeady and Jordan Jones retained their places in the starting XI.
It looked as if a positive first-half performance from the Black Cats would not yield a result when Siriki Dembele's goal gave Peterborough United the lead; the hosts then missing some good chances in a strong spell.
Aiden McGeady equalised with a fine free-kick and Johnson's side almost snatched a winner late on.
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With four points from two difficult games over the Easter weekend, Johnson delivered an upbeat assessment of the promotion picture.
"I wouldn't have taken a point beforehand and I think you can see that in our attitude towards the selection and our substitutions," he said.
"We didn't play like we were going for the draw, we weren't timid, we played with two strikers.
"The intent was there, we just couldn't find that moment of brilliance to get the first goal.
"I'm not negative at all, there's a lot of positives for us.
"The strength of our bench was excellent today. That causes you problems but they're good problems.
"That's why I've always said I think the big clubs will come through towards the end because you have the capacity to change the game, and that's the players, not me.
"There's loads of positives.
"Denver Hume back on the pitch, Ross Stewart making his first start, Charlie Wyke put in a good performance, a fantastic goal from Aiden McGeady, the unbeaten run extended....
"We'll keep everyone upbeat but of course, you're asking me and I want to win, and so there will always be that small part of me that says, 'no, I'm not happy with a draw’.
Hume's return was one of the main positives of the afternoon for Sunderland, the left-back bringing energy and drive in his brief cameo from the bench.
"He's really dynamic and bold, particularly when you play that wing-back system the opposition have to try and find a way to contain him," Johnson said.
"I really like him as a lad and a player.
"I think there's work we can do with him in a positive sense, to keep improving him and bumping up his value to the team.
I'm delighted to have him back."
Sunderland's Head Coach added that with eight games to go, it is still too soon to say it is a three-horse race for automatic promotion.
He said: "I still feel there's the potential there for someone to go on a run.
"I was in a Watford squad where were down in 14th with ten games to go. We won ten on a spin and ended up getting promoted through the Wembley final.
"I just think the focus for us remains on the next training session, the next game.
"We've got some really tough games moving into the last eight and so we've got to take it game by game, and try and win it all."