Jack Ross' bold decisions pay off plus five other things learned from Sunderland's win at Shrewsbury Town
Sunderland moved up to third in League One thanks to a 2-0 win away at Shrewsbury Town.
Here's what we learned from the victory:
Results go Sunderland way
Sunderland lost ground in League One over their international break but results were more favourable this weekend, with Peterborough United, Barnsley and Doncaster Rovers all dropping points.
Portsmouth continue to set the pace at the top, Pompey remain seven points clear of Sunderland, though Jack Ross’s side have a game in hand. Win that and they’d be in the automatic promotion places.
Sunderland face promotion rivals Doncaster tomorrow night.
Big calls pay off
Jack Ross made some big calls in the 2-0 win over Shrewsbury Town. Firstly, he kept club captain George Honeyman on the bench, instead Dylan McGeouch recalled in place of Max Power.
Lynden Gooch also had to make do with a place on the bench after injury, with Ross naming Lee Cattermole skipper.
Ross’ boldest - and most decisive - decisions were making the early subs. They had an instant impact. Gooch and Honeyman excellent, while Luke O’Nien scored his first goal minutes after coming on.
Josh Maja playing through the pain barrier for Sunderland
Josh Maja endured a poor afternoon at the New Meadow, the striker subbed before the hour mark.
Ross confirmed afterwards the teenager is still suffering from an ongoing ankle issue and his all round game wasn’t up to scratch, with Maja failing to hold the ball up.
That said, the service to him in an average first half was equally poor. He was due an off day given his superb goalscoring form this season and don’t bet against him getting back on the scoresheet at Doncaster.
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Sunderland's super subs
Luke O’Nien has struggled to break into the Sunderland side following his summer move from Wycombe Wanderers.
Adapting to life at Sunderland while also adapting to a different style of play has meant it has taken time for O’Nien to make an impact.
He made a big impact at New Meadow with a superb finish, latching on to Gooch’s pin-point through ball.
O’Nien probably won’t start at Doncaster but he has shown he can make a big impact off the bench.
Signs of a good team
They always say it is a sign of a good team when you don’t play particularly well yet still come away with three points - and a rare clean sheet.
Shrewsbury proved more than a match at New Meadow, the hosts enjoying the better of the first half but Sunderland dug in and showed their resilient side.
It helps being able to call upon the likes of Lynden Gooch, George Honeyman and Luke O’Nien from the bench.
A class above at this level.
Need to maintain momentum
Momentum is with Sunderland now and they need to string together a run of wins.
It’s been a positive couple of weeks for Ross & Co having settled into the relentless and competitive nature of League One.
With 13 games played, almost a third of the season has gone, and Sunderland must build on the back-to-back wins over Bradford City and Shrewsbury with a run of results.
Pompey are setting the pace and Sunderland have to keep up.