'We weren't strong enough' - Lee Johnson reacts after Sunderland's defeat to Charlton Athletic
Lee Johnson admitted his side 'weren't strong enough' as two set-piece goals cost them dearly against Charlton Athletic.
A 2-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light left the Black Cats five points adrift of the top two, though they have played a game less than Darren Ferguson's Peterborough United.
Though Johnson felt Josh Scowen's own goal should have been disallowed due to a foul in the build up, the head coach admitted 'soft' defending was a factor.
That was certainly the case for Charlton's second, as Alex Gilbey was allowed to gather a long throw in the box and score.
Sunderland threatened to snatch a point late on but Johnson was left frustrated by a number of crossing opportunities that were wasted.
"My view on the game was that we had three of the first chances and we were disappointed not to take one," he said.
"We knew we were up against it with the officials through the game. Their goal was partly soft from our point but partly a foul which they've got to see.
"They've got some big lads, we were a number of inches down and we knew we'd have to be strong. We weren't strong enough. "Our clean sheets through the season have come from being world class at those basics, and that's an absolute fundamental of any performance.
"We've given away two soft goals and despite what i thought was some good build up play, particularly in the second half and at times in the first, we didn't have enough quality delivery. We let them off the hook too many times."
Charlton's second goal came in slightly bizarre circumstances, with Johnson readying four substitutes at the time.
As it transpired he only made two initially, making two further after the goal.
Sunderland's head coach said that was not a factor in the goal itself, but could not hide his frustration at the manner in which Gilbey scored.
The Black Cats boss also admitted he would have some big decisions to make ahead of Tuesday's trip to Wigan Athletic after this defeat.
"It was more to do with the fourth official I think [than his choice], not being ready with the cards and checking the boys studs," Johnson said.
"I definitely don't think that had a bearing on the goal. You've got to track your man and we haven't done that. Whether there was psychology in terms of someone knowing they were coming off, I don't know.
"That was the disappointing one for me because I always fancied us to score and we'd have been the team in the ascendancy if it had gone to 1-1.
"If you do the fundamentals well you'll get chances at the other end and if we do that, we'll back ourselves to convert at a decent rate. We've proved that over a long spell.
"I thought we carried two or three individuals in the first half if I'm honest, and you can't do that against the top six or seven sides. I'll have to look back at that objectively, though."