PHIL Parkinson admitted Oxford United had forced his Sunderland side to put everything on the line in their 1-0 win at the Kassam Stadium.

Jordan Willis’s early goal gave the visitors a lead to protect.

But on top of the blustery conditions they had to weather a storm from the U’s, especially in the second half.

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Sunderland stood up to the pressure, though, claiming a remarkable seventh clean sheet in eight games.

Boss Parkinson said: “There were some heroic headers out of the box towards the end. Everybody played their part.

“We showed a strong character and we needed to – the mentality was strong and the concentration levels were great.

“We dug really deep and we had to, because conditions were tough and Oxford are a good team with a lot of talent in the side.

“It was a real team effort from us and I’m so pleased with the points.”

One of Parkinson’s first games in charge was at the Kassam, where United knocked Sunderland out of the Carabao Cup on penalties in October.

So the home side’s display did not come as a surprise.

He said: “They’ve got as many attacking options as any team in the league.

“They’re a good side and showed in the cup runs what a dangerous team they are and we knew we’d have to be at our very best in terms of organisation.”