Martin O'Neill's side tested Mark Bunn in the home goal to the maximum and the former Blackburn man proved an able deputy to the injured John Ruddy, pulling off several crucial saves as the Canaries held on for the victory.
Speaking to reporters after the match, a visibly wound-up Gardner remarked: "We are starting too slow and before we knew it we were two goals down. I pulled one back just before half-time, then we came out [for the second half], I had one [attempt] cleared off the line, one hit the post.
"Kiley [Matthew Kilgallon] could've scored, Connor [Wickham] could've scored and Sess [Stephane Sessegnon] could've scored. We could have won 5-2 on any other day but we can't keep standing here after a game, saying we'll do it.
"There are no excuses any more. If we play like that in the second half we'll win games comfortably. We need to take that on to next week to Chelsea. That'll be tough as they need a win as much as we do.
"In the second half we deserved to win the game. End of. We played poorly in the first half but in the second we deserved to win the game and maybe that was shades of Everton away. We need to push on now."
|"There are no excuses any more. If we play like that in the second half we'll win games comfortably"
- Craig Gardner
The first period saw the hosts dominate and they could have scored more than twice but, thanks to some decent goalkeeping from Simon Mignolet, Sunderland kept the score down and, when Gardner was asked whether O'Neill had some angry words at the break, there was no doubt in his mind.
"Course he did," he affirmed. "We want to do well, we want to do well for the club. We have been working so hard in training.
GARDNER IN EDEN?
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"It's like we needed a goal to really lift us, and we can't do that. We need to be lifted from the start.
"I'm not saying we're not but it's just how unlucky we are at the minute. We're coming into games we need to win and making it harder for ourselves.
"If we keep playing like that in the second half then we'll be fine - honestly, we'll be fine - but when we fall we can't keep saying [that]. We need to do something about it.
"We have a lot of games over the Christmas period and I feel we are fit enough to really push on. The more matches we play, the more points we'll get and hopefully I am right."