Jack Baldwin is looking forward to playing at the Stadium of Light again, when we face Southend on Saturday, but also delighted with our recent progress on the road, where we’ve achieved three consecutive wins against Bradford, Shrewsbury and Doncaster. He said: “I think we’ve shown we can do both sides of the game. To win leagues and get promoted you’re going to have to go away from home and win ugly, win at all costs really. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. We’d like to think that back on our home turf not many teams are going to take many points away from us. It’s brilliant that we’ve had three back-to-back away wins and it’s a great platform to build on.”
Baldwin also chatted about clean sheets and his admiration for our keeper, Jon McLaughlin. Baldwin said: “Big Jon’s the last line of defence and he bailed us out a couple of times at Doncaster which is a relief for us as defenders. We like it to never get to that point but when it does we can rely on the big man to do the business and he kept us in the game on Tuesday. It was a crucial time in the game. We like to think not many teams in this league will be able to carve us open by playing football but if and when they get in behind our defence the big man between the sticks is more than capable of doing the job as he proved at Doncaster, with his big saves at Bradford, and on several other occasions. He’s a top man and when you see him pull off them saves it’s a little boost for you and probably a bit demoralising for the opposition as well. They’ve got a tough task trying to get past him. I don’t know how to explain the feeling of having a goalkeeper you can trust in ... he’s brilliant with his feet, he’s comfortable playing his football, he’s comfortable kicking it long when he needs to. I’ve seen him switching the play when you don’t expect it and then there’s the bread and butter of making saves and coming to collect things, and when he does that it’s a massive relief for us as defenders when he does that.”
Baldwin is also enjoying his central defensive partnership alongside Tom Flanagan. “I enjoy playing alongside Tom (Flanagan),” said Baldwin. “He’s played in the Championship and he’s won promotions (from League One) so he’s experienced at this level and higher. It’s good for me having only played at this level because I can see what’s got to be done and he’s vocal on the pitch. He drags me through and I’d like to think that at times I drag him through as well so it’s a good partnership. We can shout at each other and we know it’s for the good of the game. As a footballer you want to be playing games, so to be playing games week in, week out is massive for me so I’ll keep trying to produce the best performances I can when called upon. I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
In other news, Josh Maja is fit to face Southend United on Saturday. Ross said: “Glenn Loovens trained today for the first time but it is too early for him to be involved, but Josh should train tomorrow and will be back involved for Saturday. Other than that it is as you were apart from Bryan Oviedo’s suspension being over too.”
Meanwhile, our FA Cup first round tie at Port Vale will be broadcast on TV and has been moved to November 11 (2.30pm). Our trip to Morecambe in the Checkatrade Trophy two days later will be unchanged.
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.