JOHN Coleman believes his Accrington Stanley side deserved at least a point from their top of the table clash at the Stadium of Light.

The Reds boss insists the fact that the Black Cats were holding on at the end underlines how far Stanley have come from their non-league days.

Michael Nottingham had cancelled out Dan Neil’s 15th minute opener with a header on the half hour mark.

But leaders Sunderland sealed victory thanks to Carl Winchester’s goal on 58 minutes.

“I thought we did enough to get something out of the game,” said Coleman, whose side slipped from second to sixth following the defeat.

“We gave as good as we got, made as many chances as them, probably had the same amount of shots on target.

"But we gave up silly chances, gave the ball away too cheaply in the first half, got a grip of the game, got the equaliser and looked the stronger going into half-time.

“They started brightly in the second half, pinned us back and in that spell they scored and that’s what did it as the last half-hour was one-way traffic.”

In a breathless first half, Sunderland had the majority of the chances.

The Reds’ resolve was broken in the 15th minute when Neil scored his first senior goal for Sunderland, and he did it in style.

After Lynden Gooch’s cross was headed away, Elliot Embleton nodded the ball down for Neil who beat his man and fired home from 25 yards into the left-hand corner.

Stanley got back into the game when Sean McConville’s corner ball was met beautifully by Nottingham who rose highest and powered his header into the top corner.

The Black Cats regained the lead when Winchester broke through from Aiden McGeady’s pass and stroked the ball into the left corner for his second goal of the season as Lee Johnson’s side held on for the win.

It was a third defeat of the season for Stanley but Coleman’s side remain firmly among the League One front runners.

Coleman added: “No disrespect to the likes of Bamber Bridge, Matlock, but if somebody had told me 20 years ago that we would come here and in the last 15 minutes they would have five rigid defenders trying to keep us out, they would have probably carted me away!

“We have to defend better and we have to take our chances when we get them.”