SUNDERLAND learnt some harsh lessons from Tuesday night’s downfall to struggling Lincoln City, according to striker Ross Stewart, in a game that saw red cards, tempers flare and a damaging result.

The Black Cats missed their chance to climb to the top of the League One table when striker Chris Maguire came back to haunt his old side scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light. They are still right in the hunt for promotion but league leaders Rotherham, who they are level on points with, have two games in hand. Wigan Athletic are four points behind them with five games in hand.

Stewart is a man who has been providing the goods for Sunderland this season and sits top of the League One goalscoring charts with 18 to his name including three in his last two games.

The Loch Ness Drogba played his part in the game with a goal in the game at the Stadium of Light but it was too little too late on a night that was never going to belong to Sunderland.

“I think every team has their own tactics and I think Lincoln tonight, on the evidence of the scoreline, got it right” said Stewart.

“We didn’t get to the levels we are capable of and didn’t ask them enough questions.

“Obviously they go away as 3-1 winners so they got it right, but as players we can be better than what we showed tonight. It’s a frustrating one but we just have to look ahead to Saturday now.

“I think at 1-0 we still felt we were the team on top, they kind of scored out of nothing and then when Winchy gets sent off it was backs against the wall.

“Them getting the first goal they probably found that extra bit of energy just to sit in and make it difficult. We huffed and puffed but credit goes to Lincoln because they got it right on the night.

“Lincoln sat in their shape and managed the game really well and stung us on the counter.

"I think from our point of view as players we need to take responsibility and need to be better to try and find ways to create chances and unlock the defence more. Tonight we didn’t do that.

“It was a really frustrating night from our point of view and we never found the levels that we know we are capable of.

“To be fair to Lincoln they punished our mistakes, I don’t think they had many chances but the chances they did have they took them.

“We never created the amount of chances we knew we were capable of so it was very frustrating.”

Sunderland have earned themselves just one point from a possible six after conceding a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw against Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend. 

Asked whether they were suffering any lasting effects from the draw at Adams Park, Stewart replied: "I don’t think so. 

"I think we had enough experience and that wasn’t really a factor going into this game. It’s just another game and we put that game behind us.

"It was obviously disappointing to lose a goal but it wasn’t like we were going into this game worrying about that.

"We were at home, have a really good home record and were just concerned about trying to win this game.

"Unfortunately things never really went for us tonight but we will look at it, put this game to bed and look to go and win the game Saturday."

Lee Johnson's side return to action this weekend when they go to Wham Stadium to face Accrington Stanley.