MICHAEL Beale admitted he could have made five substitutes at half-time, such was his disappointment with his Sunderland side's display in the opening 45 minutes against Plymouth.

But some "honest words" at the break helped inspire a second half turnaround as the Black Cats put on a show in the second period to climb into the Championship's top six.

Sunderland trailed at the break after Ryan Hardie's Plymouth opener but "special goals" from Pierre Ekwah, Jack Clarke and substitute Jobe Bellingham ensured the Black Cats continued their fine recent run. Beale's side have now picked up seven points from the last nine available - but the victory looked unlikely at half-time on Saturday.

"Well, we only played in one half to be honest," admitted Beale afterwards.

"We started the game well, but we really fell away. There were too many individual errors, we went really bold with our line up and it certainly impacted our cohesion early in the game... I wasn't pleased with our pressing.

"We had honest words at half time, got out there early and I thought from the moment we kicked off, we were much much better. We scored three excellent goals and we're mixing around the goal scorers now as well. It was three special goals."


Beale added: "We're a young team and so we always can get better. In that first half there weren't too many in a Sunderland shirt who did themselves justice and we spoke about that.

"We spoke about wanting to excite our fans at home, to run, play front-foot football and for people to express themselves. I could have made five subs but I told the players that I thought it was the right team and they had to put it right. We didn't want any regrets and I expected more. The second half was fantastic and we have to stay at that level."

Sunderland's three goals came in a blistering 22-minute spell after the break.

Beale said: "In that 15, 20 minute spell we looked a really good team.

"It's incredible when you compare the level of performance in the two halves, but I guess that's what it's like managing a young team at times. I just said to them, it's a really important win when you look at the table tonight."