DARREN MOORE admits his side were under the cosh for long periods of last night’s first-leg defeat at Sunderland, but the Sheffield Wednesday boss is delighted with the way in which his players dug in to ensure they remain in the tie ahead of Monday’s return game at Hillsborough.

The Owls were outplayed for more than an hour at a raucous Stadium of Light, but while the Black Cats threatened to add to Ross Stewart’s opener on the stroke of half-time, the closest the home side came to a second goal was an Alex Pritchard effort that rebounded off the crossbar.

As a result, while Sheffield Wednesday will be playing catch-up when they return to home soil on Monday night, they are hardly facing an insurmountable deficit.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Moore. “I’ve played loads of times here as a player and come here as a manager and when the crowd gets up like that, it’s a difficult place.

“The disappointing thing for me about the game was we didn’t use the ball as well as we could, but give Sunderland credit, they put a lot of energy into the game, worked, pressed us and used the ball well.

“It's not easy here with a full house under the lights. The positives were that the boys were dogged and put their bodies on the line.

“The goal was avoidable and we accept that, but after about 60, 65 minutes I just felt the energy on the pitch changed and we finished the game a lot stronger without looking really that threatening.”

The timing of Sunderland’s goal was a blow to the visitors, with the Black Cats striker with almost the final kick of the first half.

It would have been easy for Wednesday to crumble after the interval, but Moore’s side displayed their resilient side to ensure they remain in the tie.

“I don’t think we started too conservative,” added the Owls boss. “Right from the word go, we knew it was going to be that way. They came at us and that's play-off football for you. Honestly, it was exactly how I thought it would go.

“You go in at 0-0 and the onus is on them, but at half-time we had 15 minutes to settle them down and regroup.”