SUNDERLAND head coach Lee Johnson wants his players to pick themselves up to make sure a play-off place is secured in Sky Bet League One after another frustrating day on Wearside.

The Black Cats lost their nerve and balance having looked like they would cruise to victory after Charlie Wyke had scored an early double in the 3-3 draw with Accrington at the Stadium of Light.

Wyke followed up a sixth-minute header by converting Aiden McGeady’s low cross five minutes later, but the 28-year-old’s 30th goal of the season was not enough because five minutes into the second half Colby Bishop struck to pull Accrington back into it.

And when Luke O’Nien headed back into his own net after a breakdown in communication with goalkeeper Lee Burge with 22 minutes remaining, there was a frantic end.

Sunderland, who now sit nine points off second-placed Peterborough with three games left, reclaimed the lead with seven minutes left through Max Power.

But two minutes later Sean McConville’s 25-yard free-kick hit the bar and bounced in to secure a point for Accrington that leaves them six points off sixth spot.

Johnson, whose side have gone six matches without a win and sit five points above seventh place, said: “It’s a difficult one for us to take today, after decent performances against Hull and a sterling first half here, we will have to study this one to make sure we don’t lose belief.

“We have to secure a place in the play-offs first, that’s not done. We have to get a result at least in the next two games. Then we have to press the reset button.

“We are so passionate about it. We have a squad big enough for every position apart from centre-half area (injuries). That’s how with our goalscoring problem we have to be vigilant as a team not just the back four.

“The first thing about today was not putting them to the sword in terms of the chances we had.

“I remember us having a chance when we were 2-0 up, a couple of flashes across the six-yard box. There was some good play in terms of our attacking play. Even second half we had two good chances to finish it off.

“But we then lost too many individual duals, technically and physically, but they threw caution to the wind with their direct play and running. That was our problem. Big individual errors as well.”