Jack Baldwin finding his feet at Sunderland as his team-mates get a true taste of League One
Sunderland will have been glad of Jack Baldwin as they faced up to the physical challenge of Luton Town and their powerful frontline.
That the Black Cats battled their way to a point owed much to the resilience of their new partnership at the heart of the defence.
Glenn Loovens was superb throughout and Baldwin impressed, good on the ball and quick to cover when trouble arose.
There were some nervy moments in the second half, and he had to take a yellow card for a ferocious challenge on Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu, but perhaps that is part and parcel of the game at this level.
Baldwin missed out on the League opener, by his own admission adjusting to life on Wearisde after a late move from Peterborough United.
He will hope to be a good match for Jack Ross and his ethos in the third tier.
Baldwin can play out as Ross wants but he knows the league well enough to keep it simple when the circumstances command.
That knowledge could be vital as the Black Cats navigate their way through the division.
“I think it was a pretty standard League One debut, as they go,” Baldwin said.
“I think knowing the league got me through today a bit.
“We like to play football, get it down where we can, but at times, if there’s any doubt, you’ve seen today I won’t fuss about with it. We were disappointed to concede from a set piece, we’ll need to learn from that and put that right. I thought we looked threatening from set pieces as well to be fair.
“The gaffer is building an ethos at the club where we play the right way, but we’re not going to kill ourselves, whatever gets us results we’ll do.
“We don’t want to give it away but we’re out to play. We want to get the wide players and the players who are dangerous on the ball, because that’s where we’re going to get our joy from. We [defenders] are a stepping stone in that.
“This was a great game for the lads to see what it is all about, especially with Luton having the momentum from last season,” he added.
“It’s a great start for the lads to get that experience and there’ll be many like this going forward. Coming away from home, you’re looking to stay solid and first and foremost, don’t lose the game. Anything on top of a point is a positive, if you win at home and draw away, you’ll have a brilliant season.
“The way teams go against us will vary, some teams will see it as nothing to lose and come out and have a real go. Others will want to hold onto whatever they’ve got. As a team we’ll have to keep adapting as we go.”
Baldwin admits that he was taken aback by the scale of Sunderland’s facilities after making the move but the passion of the fanbase is no surprise.
Three years at Hartlepool gave him an insight into what he can expect and it has left excited for what could lie ahead.
“It’s good to be back up here. It was a very new chapter when I moved up to Hartlepool, I was only 18. It was a good chapter, my wife and I went back the other day to see the marina, Seaton beach. It’s a passionate place for football, I like that.
“The fans appreciate hard work first and foremost. Off the pitch at Hartlepool, I loved the derby games. Even in the town you could sense the rivalry, you felt the buzz and what it meant. I sat and watched it a couple of times with Sunderland fans, and it really sums up the passion of the place.
“It’s exciting for us players to have that behind us.”