Sunderland are now in an automatic promotion place, thanks to our achievement of five league victories in a row, but Jack Ross is still not satisfied. He said: “We want to go that one step further. I’ve said all along that I won’t really be satisfied until we are top and we stay there. The players have been good for me all season and at the moment they are churning out results and clean sheets, which is a terrific place to be and we look a good side. I still think we have got improvement in us, we can get better, people talk about the depth of our squad and the quality of our squad but we have been challenged in that way, our bench was stretched today, so the way we are banging out results is testament to that whole group of players. With the exception of that 15-20 period in the second half where we lost control of the game, I thought it was as well as we have played away from home in terms of dominating a game. I stressed at half-time that we needed to remain patient and keep doing the things we are good at, and I thought we started the second half brightly and ultimately got our reward for that with Aiden’s goal.”
The manager also had a few kind words for Jon McLaughlin, who made a last-minute dash to the South West, after witnessing the birth of his son and still managed to play mint! Ross added: "We defended really well throughout the game, it was last-ditch stuff at times and Jon [McLaughlin] making saves. Naturally when you get a reward like a clean sheet then the belief begins to grow as well. Jon had a second child, a son, on Thursday so he didn’t travel down until very late on Friday night. The one advantage we had was that it was a planned caesarean so we were able to plan around it. He had Thursday off and then travelled late on Friday and got the last flight down. It’s testament to his professionalism because he only arrived at the hotel after 11pm, yet he went on to produce another fantastic performance for us.”
Lee Cattermole missed out with a foot injury and will also be rested at Port Vale. “Lee has had an ongoing foot problem since the Shrewsbury game,” said Ross. “To his credit, Lee played through a lot of pain against Doncaster and then in particular against Southend, but I would suggest we will probably be without him again next weekend but hopefully after that he will be back to fitness. It was something we couldn’t risk flaring up and developing into something more long-term.”
In the absence of Cattermole, Dylan McGeouch controlled the central midfield. Ross said: "I have been lucky this season, every time I have had to ask questions of the squad then every single one of them has taken their chance. Dylan's performances have been steadily improving, he showed what an influence he can be on the game. I am delighted as it helps heighten that competition for places. Luke O'Nien too, every time he has come on to the pitch he is having an impact on the game and did so again by winning the penalty."
Unfortunately, Plymouth boss, Derek Adams, is a sore loser, but nevertheless a loser! "I think over the 90 minutes we were the better team. We had double the opportunities on goal that Sunderland had," Adams said. "Their goalkeeper (Jon McLaughlin) has had a man-of-the-match display and we were against a team that has a lot of talent. We went toe to toe with them. They scored a goal just after half-time and got a penalty that we thought was soft. We had a couple of claims for penalty kicks that we didn’t get. In the end, we feel hard done to. I don’t think a defeat is the right scoreline. Sunderland rode their luck a number of times in the match. They have come away with a scoreline that we probably don’t deserve. Last week Southend had more opportunities than Sunderland did and Sunderland won. Yesterday, we have had more opportunities than Sunderland, and Sunderland have won. I’m not sure they are going to get it all their own way this season. I think that they have got to be careful. They are obviously the favourites for the league because of the amount of money they have at their disposal, compared to everybody else in this league.”
Finally, we have been allocated 4,195 tickets for Port Vale away in the FA Cup. Tickets will go on sale on Thursday, November 1 to season card holders with 10 or more Black Cat points. All season card holders will be able to purchase tickets on Friday, November 2, before they go on general sale on Monday, November 5. Tickets are priced at £15 for adults, £10 for over-65s and under-22s while under-18s will pay £5. You can find more information by visiting the club's website. To book travel with ALS click here