Sunderland beat Doncaster 1-0 to earn their third consecutive win in a row on the road, through hard work and superior fitness. A delighted Jack Ross had this to say afterwards: Ross said: “There is a growing sense in the dressing room, we have spoken before about making sure that winning League One is one of the most important things you do in your career. There might be players in there who achieve more than that in their career but for the here and now that has to be the case. I now think I have a group of players who enjoy winning, enjoy the challenges of every game away game and they are loving winning games. I think you can see that from every supporter too, they appreciate that. People are always looking at us to see how we respond to each different venue we come to. I have mentioned about the atmosphere, generated by our supporters when we go to places, it’s brilliant but lends itself to the opposition stepping it up too. These were a good side but to come away with three away wins from consecutive away games is testament to the group. The tracker in terms of where we need to be is points wise, that’s what concerns me more at the moment. The table will only concern me after the last game. We are in a good place, to lose only one in 14 games is good. We keep banging these good results out. I don’t think anyone will be concerned about the table yet, there is a belief we will get there. If they keep doing the things they are doing they will get there. Any successful team, the very best teams, they won’t remember the flashier performances, it will be the grittier ones. The reality is, there will be more of these performances along the way if we want to win the title. There have been times when we have not been that good, but we have still got results. That belief is[mm1] growing in there and when you have that mentality you do everything to not get beaten. This was a tough game and we got through it.”
Josh Maja was left out with the ankle niggle he’s been carrying. Ross explained: “His injury hasn’t recovered like we had hoped. We had a late decision to make and we decided to leave him out and we showed the strength of the squad to be able to leave him out and win. I would be hopeful he will be fine. It is not a major injury. I would like to think we would be in the squad on Saturday at least. I wanted to be sensible, he wasn’t comfortable with it. I was confident we had the squad tonight to be able to deal with it and we did.”
In other news, Chris Maguire has been chatting about the 'king' and Sunderland winning every game! "I don't know where it's come from but it's stuck and all the boys are giving me a bit of stick for it," Maguire said. "But if that's what the fans are requesting then you've got to try and live up to it! It's a bit of a banter, and it is nice to get that appreciation from fans. It's up to me to keep putting the performances in and keep chipping in with the goals as well. I'm loving it [at Sunderland], I think everyone can see that on the pitch. I've got my love for the game back. Last year was one to forget for a number of reasons but I'm at a massive club now and loving every minute of it. It's brilliant [away support], it shows the size of the club. Everybody knows it, when Sunderland are in town there's a big following coming. We're not here to make the numbers up, we want to get out of the league as quick as we can and when the fans back us in those numbers it's up to us to repay them. I feel like we're doing that. Doncaster have been on a good run, but we've gone about our business quietly," he added. "Everyone sees us as a big scalp in this league and everybody says it before we play them, it's their cup final. We're the team to beat, but we've got to show we're not just expecting to turn up and win the game. We have to put a shift in and we did that. Three wins in a week would be great, it would be great to get the nine points. It's up to us to keep going."
Elsewhere, The Red and White Army will continue their partnership with the Sunderland Foodbank by holding their second collection before this Saturday's game against Southend United. A group of volunteers from the independent supporter’s organisation and the Foodbank will be at the Fanzone from noon, and are calling on fans to donate food, toiletries and cash.
Sunderland Foodbank Coordinator Kate Townsend said: "We are delighted to be partnering with RAWA again. We received an overwhelming response at the last collection - a van full of food and lots of cash! I'm not a football fan myself and you sometimes hear less than complimentary things about supporters. My experience of Sunderland fans since we started this partnership has been nothing but kindness and a will to help those less fortunate.”
Chairman of RAWA Andrew Hird acknowledged the huge support from SAFC: "This partnership is a new initiative for RAWA and a bit of a new direction for us. The Club have backed us from day one without us even asking. They've provided the space to collect in the Fanzone and at the last collection, before the Fleetwood match, the academy came along to help. We had members of the under 23 and under 18 squad loading food onto the van and rattling collection buckets. It was fantastic to see supporters and players volunteering together like that. It perfectly illustrates the "one club" philosophy that the owners are keen to instil.”
Sunderland AFC Managing Director Tony Davison added: “One of the best things about Sunderland is the community spirit and a passion to help those in need. Working together, players, staff and fans can make a real and positive difference to our community. The Red and White Army’s partnership with Sunderland Foodbank is a fantastic initiative and we encourage our supporters attending the game on Saturday to donate what they can.”
RAWA attended a national Fans Supporting Foodbanks conference in Liverpool last week as partnerships between supporters and local foodbanks are springing up all around the country. Sadly, the demand for foodbanks is growing and predicted to get worse. Sunderland supporters can do their bit for the local community by donating at the Fanzone before the Southend match.