Lee Johnson admits Sunderland were rescued by two “individual pieces of brilliance” as they came back from two-goals down to draw 2-2 at Crewe.
Chris Porter and Tom Lowery had given the hosts a comfortable advantage, but Jordan Jones equalised with 14 minutes left before fellow substitute Chris Maguire equalised seven minutes into added time with a stunning long-range strike.
The goalscoring duo were half of a quadruple substitution made by Johnson just before the hour mark to try and inject some life into his side.
“They were wonderful individual pieces of brilliance and we needed them because it was very tough to watch in the first half,” said the Sunderland boss.
“I don’t know if that was because of the number of games back to back, but what upset me the most was the lack of enthusiasm.
“We had no service into Charlie Wyke and our press was lethargic. We were outplayed and outthought in the first half.
“I was going to make five substitutions at half-time, but I waited to see if we got going which we did. There were a couple of them (the subs) who had a point to prove. Jordan showed great attitude and his goal will do his confidence good.
“I’ve been open and honest with Chris (Maguire) as we want all the players to do well – and that was a great goal and a great moment for him.
“We have got to do more, but I’m really happy to come out of that with something.”
Alex boss Dave Artell was left to reflect on what could have been only Crewe’s second victory against the Wearsiders.
“It was disappointing from our point of view,” said Artell.
“I thought we were good value for all three points. But they scored two worldies and that was what it has taken for them to get a point at little old Crewe.
“When you look at the relative resources, they’ve got a billionaire whose sailed in from Monaco, then Sunderland should be getting something here.
“I thought we controlled the game in possession in the first half and created chances, then we contained them in the second.
“I don’t think they had a lot of pressure – they’ve scored from a long ball.
“But that is how the cookie crumbles sometimes in football and we have got to take great heart in how we played.”
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