Phil Parkinson challenged Lynden Gooch to take his game to “another level” after the midfielder made the telling contribution in Sunderland’s 1-0 win at MK Dons.
The Black Cats won a third League One game in succession thanks to the 24-year-old’s sweet strike 10 minutes from time, as victory took them up into the play-off places.
But Parkinson believes there is even more to come from the United States international, who made it two goals in three games at Stadium MK.
“Lynden Gooch has produced a moment of real quality and he is a very good player and he has to keep taking his game to another level because he has the ability,” he said.
“MK Dons are a better team than the league table suggests, and we knew that before we came here – they have beaten good teams recently and we had to work hard to earn the victory.
“I felt in the end we deserved to win, and we had some very good chances before we scored, and sometimes away from home you have to dig in and show concentration levels – and I thought we did that today.
“We raised our levels in the second half and we got the deserved win in the end.
“You need certain characteristics to win away from home and you have to have a strong mentality, and I felt that we stuck to our task today and head back home with a deserved win.
“It was a real team effort today and we had the chances to win more comfortably – we have done our bit today.”
Backed by what Parkinson described as “fantastic” travelling support, it was Sunderland who controlled the piece, watching MK Dons twice clear off the line early in the second half.
Just as it looked as though the Dons might hold on for a point, as Lee Nicholls superbly stopped a Chris Maguire free-kick, Gooch unleashed a beautiful strike from the edge of the area to find the keeper’s top corner.
And Dons boss Russell Martin believes that, in spite of his side sitting just three points from the relegation zone, there were undoubtedly positives to take from the match.
“I thought we were excellent and controlled the game in the first half, we looked strong defensively and were generally the better team,” he said.
“It is not a time to panic, we have had to play a lot of tough fixtures in a short period of time – we need to pick up points and keep learning and keep developing.
“Regardless of results, win lose or draw we have to learn something from each game – we have to learn because there is always stuff to learn and improve upon.”