Sunderland battled hard to win 1-0 at Oxford United and are now just three points behind League One leaders Rotherham United. “We have to have our eyes on that top spot,” said Phil Parkinson afterwards. “We have to keep on looking above us and keep on churning out the results. We have had a great week, and now we have a few days to recharge the batteries and I feel we need that after three tough games, but we will be ready for next Saturday.”

“The early goal gave us a great platform. Set-plays are important and Chris’ delivery is good, I was pleased Jordan got on the end of it and we couldn’t have asked for a better start. We probably had 10 minutes in the first half where we got a bit sloppy on the ball, but you are never going to get perfection. The big thing for me today was the character shown by the lads. The whole team deserves the plaudits - defending starts from the front. There were some heroic headers inside our box towards the end of the game from Charlie Wyke, Tom Flanagan, and everybody played their part today. We showed a strong character today and we needed to. Our mentality was strong, our concentration levels were great, we dug really deep, and we had to because conditions were tough and Oxford are a good team with a lot of talent in their side. They have as many attacking options as any team in the league and they are a good side, a dangerous team, and we knew we would have to be at our best today and make sure that our organisation was right. The biggest cheer from our fans was when Denver [Hume] put his body on the line to stop a cross coming in the box and it is those kind of things that help you keep clean sheets, and it can’t just be three or four players doing it, it has to be everyone. The results of late have been good. The supporters, as you saw, have got right behind the team because they are seeing desire, absolute desire, and you could see the reception the lads got at the end today - and they deserved it.”

“It’s not just about the XI that started, I was also pleased for the lads that came off the bench today,” added Parkinson. “Josh Scowen has waited patiently for his chance and he has come on and played with real nous, while it is always difficult when you are thrown on late in the game as Alim was, he had to get ready quickly as soon as Bailey went down. Lafferty as well, it was a real team effort from us and I am so pleased to have got the points. Scowen is a very good player. He has come in and the lads in midfield have gone up a level, and that’s what happens with competition for places. He has done really well today and shown what he is all about, he’s a very intelligent player and he did some really clever things out there.”

The manager also gave an update Bailey Wright's injury, which saw him limp off and be replaced by Alim Ozturk, who, to be fair is an able deputy. “It doesn’t look good, that’s all I can say,” said Parkinson. “Obviously it’s a bit early [to make an assessment] but it looks like quite a bad injury which is a blow, but Alim has come on and done well. Alim is unlucky to have been out of the team. We made the change at Tranmere, but it was a tough call. Bailey has been excellent for us but if he is out for a period, Alim comes in and there’s no problem with that at all. Alim has a great personality, he is a great lad and while he has been out of the team he has trained well and that’s really important. We have gone with the same team for quite a period of time now and sometimes it can be difficult to keep those other lads going but, as I keep saying, they have been outstanding and they have driven the other lads on.”