LEE JOHNSON is determined to “keep the hammer down” as Sunderland look to build on their hard-earned win against Ipswich Town.

The Black Cats went into the fixture determined to end a run of three consecutive league defeats but were forced to play second best for large spells in front of an increasingly frustrated Stadium of Light crowd.

The patience of players and supporters alike received the maximum reward as a late Luke O’Nien header and an injury-time penalty from substitute Aiden McGeady gave Johnson’s men a valuable three points.

Far from resting on his laurels and basking in the glory of a much-needed win, Johnson admitted he had already turned his focus towards tomorrow night’s trip to struggling Shrewsbury Town.

“Relief is definitely one of the emotions - but it’s definitely not the stand-out emotion,” explained the Black Cats boss.

“I probably feel at my most aggressive now, to keep the hammer down and go and improve on that performance on Tuesday night.

“Go again, turn it around, no rest for the wicked.

“I’ll have a little whisky and diet coke tonight just to settle, and then beyond that it will be straight onto Shrewsbury.

“That’s the way we have got to be, it’s a tough league.

“We are a good side and we have got to believe it.”

Belief was conspicuous by its absence during a first-half largely dominated by the visitors as Paul Cook’s side enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes.

They created several good opportunities to get in front with former Middlesbrough midfielder Sam Morsy and Bersant Celina both going close.

It was the latter that really should have put the Tractor Boys ahead as he tested Black Cats keeper Thorben Hoffmann twice in quick succession and the German stopper remained alert to complete a fine triple save with a routine block to deny Macaulay Bonne.

Highlights for the home faithful were scarce as a miscued volley from striker Ross Stewart and two hopeful - but ultimately unsuccessful - penalty appeals were the only positives from an underwhelming first-half display.

The second half followed a similar pattern but Sunderland - to their credit - remained resolute and disciplined in defence and restricted their visitors to one real opportunity when an unmarked Sone Aluko fired well over from 12 yards.

There were just five minutes left on the clock when the deadlock was finally broken as the Black Cats scored with their first effort on target.

A corner-kick from the left looped over visitors keeper Christian Walton and allowed O’Nien to head into the empty net at the far post.

A second goal would follow in injury-time as Johnson’s side were awarded a debatable penalty after a volley from Stewart struck the hand of Tractor Boys defender Aristote Nsiala.

Substitute McGeady stepped up to take the spot-kick and made no mistake as he struck a rising effort into the top left-hand corner of Walton’s goal.

The performance left Johnson to praise his side for their work-rate and concentration in claiming a win that moved them back into the League One play-off places.

“I don’t want you to put words in my mouth about the best performance because I think it was one of the best performances," he said.

“It wasn’t fluid, it wasn’t champagne football, it wasn’t Ajax or Barcelona in their heyday, but we hustled, we harried, we had to deal with their quality. Everybody stayed concentrated.

“We not only healed as a team today, we progressed as a team today because young players showed their steel and that is really important.”

The victory has lifted Sunderland to sixth ahead of tomorrow's trip to Shrewsbury's Montgomery Waters Meadow, five points adrift of league leaders Plymouth Argyle, but with at least a game in hand on all bar one of the sides above them.