Gaffer's Craic

Sunderland looked solid in the sunshine as they beat Shrewsbury 2-0 to go third. Jack Ross had this to say afterwards: Ross said: “There were bits of today that pleased me more than when we have played better just because we were getting better at doing the other side of the game that you need to do in this league. We showed that again. It wasn't an easy game. We toughed it out, kept a clean sheet and that was important, it gave us a platform. We would always show glimpses of quality, the goals scored were good quality. It helps strengthen their belief and getting that reward from playing in that manner was important. You enjoy each and every win, make sure the players enjoy them regardless how they come around. The point you make is those performances at home we know we are capable of doing that, these are the ones people would have question marks over it, not because we are not capable, because it was a big adjustment for them. We are showing we are capable. Burton was a watershed for us in that respect. Post that game away from home, we have been a lot more resilient.”

Ross was delighted with the clean sheet: “We do a lot of work defensively, and John (Potter) and James (Fowler) particularly with the defensive unit. We have been frustrated and they have. We haven’t been cut open, our general defending has been good. It was just we made individual mistakes and conceded poor goals at times. Our general shape and play is good, it is just that last bit. I’m pleased the back four have their reward in the shape of a clean sheet.”

Thegaffer also had a kind word for Luke O’Nien , who came off the bench to seal the three points. He said: “He has been an interesting one for us, he is still very young and the transition he has made to Sunderland, I have been pleased how he has settled in. I think he went through a period where he was overthinking. He even came away from doing the things he normally did well in training, we had a chat and he has trained really well this past fortnight. He has been back to what he does best. The thing about him is he is a fine finisher, he works so hard at it. When he gets in to those positions most of us expected him to score. I am delighted for him from a personal point of view. He is a young man who has made a big jump and he will now feel properly at home now he has made that contribution.”

Jack Ross also explained his decision to substitute Josh Maja. “He’s had a little bit of an issue with his ankle, which is why he missed the Checkatrade Trophy game against Carlisle, and it’s been a bit of a niggling one,” said Ross. “He has trained all the time because he is that sort of boy, but it was a little bit sore again yesterday. I’m not using that as an excuse because I don’t think he played well, and he will know that as well - there are bits of his game that he is usually better at, that were untidy at Shrewsbury, and yet he still got himself into a couple of good positions where normally you might have expected him to score. At 19-years-old I expect that. I expect his form to be up and down, and for him to have dips in games, but his contribution this season has been great. He’s also played a lot more games this season than previously, which is a new experience for him.”