Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson was purring at his side’s performance after they netted five unanswered goals against Cheltenham in their League One clash at the Stadium of Light to move top of the table.
The visitors struggled to create chances and were unable to make a fight of it after falling behind to Bailey Wright’s 11th-minute header.
Sunderland striker Ross Stewart added goals in the 28th and 38th minute to give Michael Duff’s side a mountain to climb after the break.
But it was Sunderland who went on to find the net again with midfielder Luke O’Nien converting Corry Evans’ pass in the 65th minute before – a minute later – substitute Leon Dajaku completed a sixth-straight home win with a finish high into the net.
Johnson said: “Really pleased. Proud as punch of the players and the club because a lot of people put a lot of hard work into a performance.
“Sometimes Ross gets the headlines but Joyce doing the cooking is just as important. The lads who came in did the business.
“We still have loads to improve on but what you see is more cohesion.
“A lot of stuff has come out today and the players should take great credit for that.
“It is the hardest job picking the next 11 because everyone probably deserves to play.
“We have 10 games in five weeks and the boys will have to accept it and hopefully we will keep churning out the results.
“It’s my job to pick an 11. I find picking the subs harder, leaving one out. I am so proud of the level of consistency of the performance.
“Nathan Broadhead was fantastic. He never loses heart when he doesn’t get the ball. He is constantly presenting himself to get in behind and I enjoyed his performance.
“Leon is another who looks to penetrate in behind. We are not stopping his run enough at the moment. But he creates that space for the number 10.”
Cheltenham manager Duff was obviously not happy after watching side crumble – just days after losing at Wigan too – and drop to 16th.
He said: “I am disappointed but the last two games we have played we didn’t look like us. Our success is based on the best defensive record.
“You can’t give up chances and give goals away like that. We tried four formations and credit to Sunderland because I thought they were excellent.
“That is the 14th game we have played this season and I think 10 of those have been away – it has been tough because of the miles we have put in.
“We are a small club. We have four or five big players out and today proved we are not ready to come to places like this with big injuries.
“You have to learn it is a tough school. We haven’t been able to train and we had to put two 19-year-olds in the defence. And we haven’t been able to train because of the miles.
“But would anyone in Cheltenham have taken where we are in the league right now at this stage? I think so.
“The lads have been magnificent for two years. We have another tough game at Rotherham (on Saturday) who were in the Championship last season. It isn’t going to get easier.”
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