BAILEY WRIGHT says Sunderland’s players must learn the lessons of recent setbacks to ensure their League One automatic promotion challenge stays on track. 

The Australian defender acknowledged that a potential victory – and the league leadership – were “thrown away” in a frustrating draw at Accrington on Saturday. 

Mitch Clark’s 84th-minute equaliser denied the Black Cats victory after Aiden O’Brien’s deflected opener had put them front. 

It was the third time in a week that Sunderland had missed the chance to go top of League One, having conceded a 98th-minute equaliser to draw at Wycombe seven days earlier, before losing at home to Lincoln last Tuesday. 

Despite the blip, Lee Johnson’s side can still boast a record of just one defeat in 12 league matches, but Wright is fully aware that there is little margin for error in the promotion race. 

“It’s frustrating because we’ve thrown away the win there,” Wright said. “I thought we managed the game pretty well, obviously bar the goal. 

“There are little lessons to be learned but I think we can look at the last few results and say that things haven’t been good enough. 

“We put in a really good run before that and still have ourselves in a good position. 

“We have to bounce back and learn from this. There was a lot that could have been a lot better, which is like any game, but we’ll pick ourselves up and prepare for the next one.” 

Sunderland remain in the second automatic promotion spot despite Saturday’s setback, with Rotherham surprisingly losing at lowly Fleetwood – but Paul Warne’s side are only a point behind with two games in hand, while fourth-placed Wigan are three points behind having played five games fewer. 

Johnson is at least starting to see a number of absentees return, with Wright back from injury to feature at Accrington, and goalkeeper Thorben Hoffman and forward Leon Dajaku both over recent bouts of Covid. 

The manager also has the rare luxury of a full week to prepare his players for Saturday’s home game against Portsmouth, with no midweek fixture coming up. 

“We have had injuries and a little bit of Covid but ultimately we stick together,” Wright said. 

“I’m sure there will be situations that aren’t ideal but our focus now is on the fact that there’s no midweek game, so we can prepare and work on a few things. 

“No one likes being injured or missing out with Covid because it’s a few days where you are stuck in your house and can’t get out. 

“These challenges are faced by everyone so whether we find it difficult or not it’s the same for everyone and you just have to crack on.”