Sunderland must cut out silly mistakes to avoid relegation, says Adam Johnson

Winger admits home game against fellow strugglers Reading tomorrow will be vital

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The Independent Football

Adam Johnson has stressed the importance of Sunderland's home game with Reading tomorrow after they fell into the bottom three, calling for his team to cut out the silly mistakes.

Sunderland conceded goals either side of half-time in a 3-1 defeat at home to Chelsea on Saturday, firstly through a needless penalty conceded by Sebastian Larsson and then at the start of the second half when Phil Bardsley failed to control a cross.

Those errors were in direct contrast to a battling display from Martin O'Neill's side, who were clapped from the field of play, despite the defeat and falling into the relegation zone.

"I don't care who you are, it's impossible to win games single-handedly, but as a team today there were lots of positives apart from the silly goals we conceded," said Johnson.

"We were good and bad in equal measure. The Reading game is massive for us and it was always going to be even before this match. Everyone knows it's our game in hand, and it's important. If we play like we did today, we'll do well.

"It's up to us to try to do everything we can to win. It's different from last year because it's a totally different style of play. I have to do a lot more, because last season I could stay high up the pitch and didn't have to do much tracking back. It's totally different here.

"I felt at times we were very good. We keep conceding silly goals and that's costing us. With a bit of luck though we could have got something out of that game.

"I haven't felt a lack of confidence in recent weeks, but it hasn't really been happening for me. It's not really been happening for the team, either. It's hard to get yourself going when the team's not performing.

"I think we've started to play well as a team and you'll start to see the best of me as well. The confidence in the dressing room is fine but everyone is just eager to win.

"Everyone's so frustrated because we know we've got the ability to win games. There are loads of games to play. If we win a couple of games we're out of the drop zone. Then everyone will be saying we're looking well. There's not a lot of points between eight or nine teams and it's too early to say we're in a relegation battle."

Danny Rose, the on loan Tottenham full-back was once more outstanding for Sunderland and O'Neill admitted: "He wants to remain at the football club and that is encouraging and if he went back to Tottenham, particularly with [Benoît Assou-]Ekotto getting fit again, the chances are he wouldn't play that often, so it's certainly worth a look at anyway.

"He would love to stay here. He's got on terrifically well with everyone. The players have taken to him, everybody has taken to him. Most importantly, the crowd have taken to him and rightly so because he has been absolutely outstanding. I always felt he had that potential, but he's playing remarkably well.

"It's important that everyone sticks together, it's exactly that. The crowd here have seen difficult days before, but have battled through them. They will naturally be anxious and a bit frustrated, but in the not too distant future it will be naturally important that they stick with us. I've never been one to ask the crowd to do something that is absolutely and utterly against their will. I felt they were genuinely behind the team and that's gong to be very very important on Tuesday night.

"We were in the bottom three this time last year, just before we played Blackburn and to win the game gives you a psychological boost," O'Neill added. "

For us on Tuesday night, winning the game, regardless of how we do it – it would be great to play football like we did in parts today – is the most important thing."