Lee Johnson reacts as Sunderland overcome poor second half to beat Shrewsbury Town

Lee Johnson admits his Sunderland side need to find greater consistency after a nervy win over Shrewsbury Town, but said he was pleased with his side's resilience in the second half.

Saturday, 23rd January 2021, 9:46 pm
Lee Johnson celebrates Sunderland's win over Shrewsbury
Lee Johnson celebrates Sunderland's win over Shrewsbury

The Black Cats took an early lead through Charlie Wyke at the Stadium of Light, and should have extended their lead in an impressive first half hour.

They struggled thereafter though, guilty of losing possession too often in a tense second half.

Lee Burge was rarely tested, though, and Johnson took heart from the defending on show.

"It was [game of two halves]," Johnson said.

"I thought the first half an hour was outstanding , exactly how we want to play. When we start to put together 96 minute performances like that we'll be very close.

"It doesn't always work like that in football and in the second half we had to dig in. They made it a battle, we made it a battle at times and that's something we've got to look at.

"But it's a game where it was a bit nervy and we've got the clean sheet.

"I think after what was a tough defeat on Tuesday night because that was a game we think we should have won on the balance of play, we earned the right to have a scruffy 45 minutes.

"I don't think we were ever under massive threat, there was a bombardment of the box from long throws and a couple of wide free kicks, but I thought we were solid and very strong in the middle of the goal.

"I did think we dealt with the pressure well defensively, we changed the formation which you don't want to do where possible but I felt we needed some strength in the middle of the pitch, and that sacrifices the forward play a little.

"The bit we did do quite well was manage the last six to eight minutes well, because that's not easy and we saw that out well."

Johnson reflected on a mixed second half by saying his side need to find greater consistency, and felt his side's play was too 'frantic' for the most part.

"I think it’s natural to be a bit nervy [after Plymouth]," he said.

"We had quite a few good opportunities to just slide a ball in, or we got ahead of the ball just a bit too early.

"It was a little too frantic in the second half – it wasn’t fire in the belly and ice in the head, as it was in the first half.

"Shrewsbury went man-for-man on Grant which stopped our rhythm, and it became a battle.

"Had we got the second goal, we could have been a lot more expansive and may have gone on to win by more.

"But you have to give credit to Shrewsbury because having conceded the first goal, they didn’t lay down and die. They made it difficult for us.

"We need to be consistent.

"Consistency of character, consistency of work, consistency of decision-making.

"We have to review our performances honestly, what went well and what didn’t, and stay on the right path.

"I believe we will do that and make this place better, and that’s not a criticism of the previous regime it just means continually trying to get improve."