LEE JOHNSON praised Lee Burge after the Sunderland goalkeeper made two crucial second-half saves in his side’s 1-1 draw with Lincoln City.

Burge made crucial stops from Cohen Bramall and Morgan Rogers to ensure the Black Cats claimed a point to remain within a place of the automatic-promotion positions in League One.

At the start of last month, Johnson opted to drop Burge for Sunderland’s game at Shrewsbury, only to immediately recall the 28-year-old after his deputy, Remi Matthews, made a costly mistake against the Shrews.

Since then, Burge has been outstanding, with his performances playing a key role in Sunderland’s surge up the table.

Johnson said: “I think Lee’s been excellent. Since that Shrewsbury game, when we felt it was the right time to leave him out, he came back in very quickly, and since then I think he’s been top drawer.

“As a goalkeeper, it’s really important that your defence trusts you, and I think at the moment, the communication is good and they trust him to make the big saves. Today, he’s had to make a couple of very good ones.”

With Hull and Peterborough also drawing, Sunderland remain two points off the automatic-promotion positions with 11 games still to play.

In that respect, today’s game was something of an opportunity missed, although the fact that Lincoln are also involved in the heart of the promotion battle means Johnson is not too disappointed with his side’s efforts against one of their rivals.

He said: “We've probably just shaded it in terms of possession and dangerous attacks, but at the same time they've got real threats on the counter.

“They've got youth, they've got brightness and they're a difficult side to play against because of that. They stretch you. 

“We don't like losing leads and that is disappointing. We don't make many mistakes and it's one mistake that's led to the goal, one mistake in seven or eight games really. 

“I'm not going to be too critical, that's for sure. They've put in a massive shift over the last few weeks and today, it's human nature to look at other results, but it's nothing lost and nothing gained.”