HAVING finally climbed back into an automatic promotion spot, Sunderland have taken command in the race to the Championship with only six matches remaining.

Jack Baldwin, the centre-back whose header against Burton Albion took them there on Tuesday night, does not want supporters to start taking a top two place for granted just yet.

It might seem a strange time for a Black Cats player to be asking for time, but it is pretty understandable given how often the club’s fans have had to endure twists and turns this season.

Now there is almost a sense that Sunderland’s followers know what to expect from matches in League One.

They have got their heads around the fact that it is not the end of the world when Jack Ross’ team fall behind, because they have shown the mental toughness to react.

That has been the case on many occasions this season and they have had to battle back from conceding first in both of the last two games, and yet still came away with four points from meetings with Rochdale and Burton.

Coventry City, who still have sights set on a late surge back into the top six themselves, are next on the agenda at the Stadium of Light today and Baldwin wants the supporters to keep believing and not to stress too much if things don’t appear to be going to plan.

“We’re disappointed for everyone involved in the club that we couldn’t win at Wembley in the Checkatrade Trophy final but I think the biggest aim for everyone this year was to get out of this league so that’s been our focus since the start,” said Baldwin.

“The cup was a bonus, getting to the final, and now our full focus is on the league. The fans play a massive part in that because whenever they’re up and feeling good, we feel good. When the crowd’s tense, that might seep into the lads on the pitch as well so it’s a fine balance.

“We’ve been football fans ourselves and we know how frustrating it is to watch a football game when things aren’t going your way but personally I’d ask for the fans’ patience and for them to really get with us for the last six games because they can play such a big part in where we want to get to.”

Even though Burton took the lead on Wearside on Tuesday, the crowd struck with the team. They backed them throughout the game and the noise levels increased once Baldwin had headed in the equaliser.

The second and winning goal never materialised but that did not stop the support from the stands urging them forward throughout the second half and now Sunderland will look to maintain their unbeaten home record against Coventry.

Baldwin has been a key performer in that run. He might be the first to admit that his own campaign has had errors in it, but he has still managed to impress since moving from Peterborough United last summer.

And since losing his place in late February, when he was then omitted from five matches in a row before returning to the mix against Barnsley on March 12, he has shown why Ross has tended to prefer him to play alongside Tom Flanagan at the heart of the defence.

He said: “I spoke with the manager at the time and he felt it was the right decision. I completely back his decision.

“Looking back it probably was the right decision. I’d come off a couple of individual errors in consecutive games and it was good to step back and have a breather.

“As players you want to be playing every game but there are times when the manager feels you need to step out and have a breather and it worked brilliantly for me.

“It was great from the manager that he pulled me and explained it and whatever his decision we’ve all got to accept it, but I feel better for it now as we go into the final games. I was thankful for it.”