Stanley boss John Coleman felt his side gave Sunderland a helping hand on their way to a 3-0 victory at the Wham Stadium.

Aiden McGeady put the visitors ahead after just three minutes, a lead which was doubled in first half injury time by Will Grigg.

Stanley’s best spell of the match came in the 25 minutes after half time, but they failed to find an elusive goal before on-loan Tottenham forward Kazaiah Sterling put the result beyond doubt with 11 minutes to play.

Defeat for Stanley, a sixth in their last seven games, leaves them just two points above the dropzone ahead of a crucial trip to third-bottom AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Sunderland were coming in to the game on the back of a Checkatrade Trophy final defeat to Portsmouth, with Coleman admitting McGeady’s early strike handed the Black Cats the initiative they craved.

He said: “They are a good side. They are coming in off the back of a harsh defeat at Wembley.

“You can’t be giving players of that ability time and space to get the ball, walk inside unopposed and fire the ball in from 20 yards.

“That was after three minutes and that gave them a shot of adrenaline. After that they were very good for half an hour and we had to work hard to try and stay in the game.

“We did stay in the game, had a good chance that Billy put over. They were comfortably the better team in the first half but if we could have gone in at 1-0 it would have been a different game.

“But three minutes in to injury time, to concede the way we did. We’d had a let off a minute earlier from a ball over the top.

“If you defend like that then you’re going to be punished at whatever level, never mind a team with good players.

“If you have a £3m striker bearing down on goal then you expect to be punished.”

Erico Sousa was introduced at the break and instilled some life in to Stanley who dominated the early exchanges of the second half.

Sousa and Billy Kee were among those pass up good opportunities as the Reds pressed for a way back in to the game.

And Coleman added: “What I must say is that for the first 25 minutes of the second half I thought we were exceptional.

“We pinned them in, had three great opportunities, and if we were to take any one of them then it gives us the shot of adrenaline to go on.

“We got a bit more reckless, ambitious, gambling a bit more, with players pushing forward, and were susceptible to getting picked off. Once the third goal went in it was game over.”

Sunderland boosted their promotion hopes as they extended their unbeaten run in the league to 17 games.

Stanley gave them a scare in the reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light in February, leading 2-0 before Jack Ross’ side battled back to earn a point.

Things were more straight forward this time around, with Coleman feeling Grigg’s goal in first half injury time proved to be the decisive factor.

“My own personal opinion is that they were better on the night, but for 25 minutes, we were comfortably better,” the Reds boss said.

“The game hinged on the second goal for me, and when we conceded, we were very disappointed with the way we defended.

“We are disappointed that we didn’t take the three glorious chances we had.”