Ten-man Sunderland held on for a vital three points, against a Bradford side who were also reduced to ten, in a thrilling second half as Jack Baldwin scored the winning goal. Sunderland deservedly took the lead with Josh Maja’s tenth goal of the season. Anthony O’Connor equalized seven minutes into the second half, but Sunderland were only behind for two minutes, as Jack Baldwin scored his first ever Sunderland goal. The drama was far from over, Max Power was sent off for an apparent elbow/kicking out. The foul resulted in a penalty which was saved by Jon McLaughlin. Deep into injury time, Bradford were also reduced to ten as Sean Scannell received his marching orders.
Jack Ross had this to say afterwards: “Our start to the season has been good and encouraging, to only lose one game is good in a tough league. To draw some of these draws into wins, it makes that start look a bit better. It is good it has been encouraging and positive from the players. We keep getting better. Defensively as a whole team, dealing with the physical side of the game we are improving. We are understanding that more and more. Naturally pleased to win again, we have had an OK spell in not losing games but you want to turn draws into wins. that was pleasing. There were various aspects that were pleasing, bits of the game were good. We had to show that resilience in that last 20 minutes, it was not easy. Players have had to dig deep again and that they did that.”
Ross on Max Power’s red card and discipline in general: "I didn't see it at the time. But we understood from the fourth official that it was a kick out. I have watched it and it is a kick out. There is no contact and quite a bit of contact between their player. But in fairness to them, they don't react in any way other than to draw the referee's attention to it. They don't to pretend to have been caught by it. The ref was looking straight at it too. There was zero contact, but it was a kick out. When you do that, then you give the referee a decision to make. The discipline side of it is interesting one for me, if I had any concerns about the discipline of my players on a daily basis and how they conduct themselves, what they do, but I never have any concerns from them. It is that fine balance on the pitch being absolutely determined to take this club forward as Max is and remaining in control of your emotions too. It is a fine balance. Every player that is a proper player will walk that line all the time. He has to make sure he stays the right side of it. Max knows that, I know that. It is something we need to continue to work on as we want him available for games this season. The two [red cards] this week are difficult for me to defend them as a manager. I won't come out and be massively critical of my players publicly, it is something you have to improve upon as they are avoidable. These two this week have been avoidable red cards and it is experienced players involved in them too. It is not something I deal with immediately after a game, particularly when we have performed in that manner to win the game. I don't want to detract from any of the positives from the game. Max is an adult and so am I, we deal with it accordingly through the week. It is a blow for us as he is an important player, and a blow for him with a four-game ban. We have to make sure it is not replicated."
Max Power has apologised: "Firstly I’d like to say well done to the lads for getting the 3 points today. I put them under unnecessary pressure and could of cost the team a huge 3 points. Secondly, sorry to the players, staff and fans who travelled in great numbers for my actions. I was being trodden on and I’ve reacted in the worst possible way which is resulted in a red card. I’m gutted and take full responsibility for my actions. I play with my heart on my sleeve and I’m desperate for us as a club to have a successful season. I’ll learn from this and do my best to make sure it never happens again."
Ross on Chris Maguire’s arrogance. “He is in a good place. His performance level has been good this season, bar a little dip for a couple of games. Whatever position we have asked him to play he has been very effective. He is enjoying his football, loves being at the club, and has a good relationship with me and the staff. It brings out the best in him. He thrives in bigger atmospheres and bigger attention. That last period (of Saturday’s game) when he was subject to some niggly stuff, he enjoys that.”
Ross on Sunderland fans falling back in love with Lee Cattermole. “The whole group helped us win the game but Lee’s performance, particularly in that period when we were down to ten men, just reflects how he is at the moment. He is absolutely loving his football and things have come a long way in a short period for him. I’m so pleased because of how he has been for me personally, I think he deserves that enjoyment and the credit he has received from supporters - that relationship has been rebuilt as well. He’s enjoying himself and that’s a big part of football, he is enjoying being on the pitch, trying to win games, and performing the way he is doing. He is going to be a very important player for us over the course of the whole season. His booking is a bone of contention for me because there was another foul on the edge of their box soon after when their player didn’t get a yellow card, and the only real difference between the two was the player who committed the foul. But Lee’s ability to then manage the rest of the game, and still be aggressive and competitive, is testament to where he feels he is at the moment. One defeat in 12 league games is brilliant, but we have been frustrated at the number of draws - particularly recently - so there’s no shying away from our eagerness to get back to winning ways. We’ve had a couple of games recently where we have done a lot of good things but not had a tangible reward, and the important thing is that you need to have a reward for your efforts and performances. I’m glad they got that today. They had to show so many different sides of their game. They were good at times, and they had to defend periods reasonably well, and then the last 20 minutes was all about guts and hunger and courage from the whole group, because the substitutes helped us massively in that spell.”
Jack Baldwin on his first goal. "It's been a while coming because I've missed a few chances. I missed one earlier on down the far end and it was ringing through my head 'not again, not again' because I missed a few at home as well. But to get a goal in front of the away supporters is a special moment for me. So many times the fans can pull you through when things go against you. We went down to 10 men for the last part of the game and they really drag you through, and you can really sense they're willing you on to do well. It makes a massive difference for them to come here in their numbers week in week out, it makes a real big difference to us on the park. It's a squad game, Josh Maja up front is doing a great job, Sinki (Jerome Sinclair) is putting the work in, the flair of Chris (Maguire) and Geeds (Aiden McGeady) when they get on the ball. For us as defenders we're just there to mop it all up. They (Bradford) threw the kitchen sink at us today. It's good when you come away from getting everything bombarded at you and you've got the win and know it's all worth it."
Penalty save hero, Jon McLaughlin, was delighted with the win and now heads off to join up with the Scottish squad and is determined to enjoy the experience. “It’s great to be back involved with them,” he said. “I’ve only recently started to get involved so it’s still really special for me. I’m sure the other lads are grateful for the break that myself and Tom have got them! Scotland have got some very good goalkeepers, Craig and Allan McGregor at Rangers. They’ve got an awful lot of caps between them, massive experience they’ve had it boxed off for years and years now. For me it’s about enjoying the experience and whatever comes of it, enjoy being in those surroundings, training with that calibre of player and hope that it can add something to me as a goalkeeper that I can bring something back to Sunderland. I’m sure he still has really fond memories of his time here, he was a big signing at the time and had some good times, so it’ll be interesting to get his insight. It’s a great bunch of lads there so I’m looking forward to it."