Jack Ross on form of Sunderland ace Jon McLaughlin and his late heroics against Coventry

In the closing stages, with Sunderland looking good for a solid point on the road, Tom Flanagan slipped to allow Conor Chaplin a clear run at goal.

Sunday, 30th September 2018, 8:51 am
Updated Sunday, 30th September 2018, 8:57 am
Jon McLaughlin makes a save against Coventry City.

Jack Ross, by his own admission, feared the worst. But two superb pieces of defending denied Chaplin a winner and preserved a hard-fought point for Sunderland.

First, man of the match Jon McLaughlin came racing out and spread himself to get a crucial touch on the ball, it sufficiently slowed down the goal-bound ball enough to allow Jack Baldwin time to clear off the line.

Jon McLaughlin makes a save against Coventry City.

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It was a point-saving piece of goalkeeping and defending from the duo. Too often last season, Sunderland's goalkeepers let the club down badly.

Jon McLaughlin joined the club this summer and has slotted seamlessly into Ross' side, though he is not currently being rewarded with the amount of clean sheets his impressive performances warrant.

McLaughlin made several important saves against Coventry to help the Black Cats leave the Ricoh Arena with a point and the goalkeeper won praise from his manager.

Ross said: "In that last period the game was very end-to-end and our keeper made two or three outstanding saves in that period.

"There was a slip by Tom [Flanagan] and maybe at that point I was starting to think about what I was going to say to the players afterwards in the wake of a defeat.

"But Jon got something on it and it typifies Jack’s commitment that he got back to clear off the line."

With Lee Camp, Jason Steele and Robbin Ruiter costing Sunderland more points than fans would care to remember last season, the form of McLaughlin cannot be understated.

McLaughlin commands and manages his area well, confidently comes for crosses and is a good shot-stopper. All round a safe pair of hands.

On McLaughlin's form, Ross said: "I don’t want to downplay it and say it was just what I expected - but it is!

"He is one of the early ones that I identified and fought quite hard for him to come, not because I wasn’t supported, but because of where we were as a club at that time.

"His performance levels have been what they were last season in Scotland.

"I saw a lot of him and he played his part in a good Hearts team last season.

"The only thing is that he is probably not getting a tangible reward in the shape of clean sheets at the moment.

"But his contribution to getting points in this league has been very good so far."

Sunderland fans will hope his good form continues when Peterborough United head to the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.