Jack Ross reflects on Sunderland's tenth draw of the season and explains his message to the players

Sunderland's unbeaten record at home continued on Saturday as they battled to a 1-1 draw with Luton Town.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 7:00 am

After a spell in previous seasons where they went just day under a year without winning at the Stadium of Light, that is something to savour.

Yet there remains a very fair concern that a team with serious designs on winning automatic promotion cannot afford the number of draws that the Black Cats are producing.

Saturday was their third in six home games.

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It was their tenth overall in League One this season.

“Naturally there is an element of frustration around that, some of those draws we may have lost, some we feel we should have won,” Ross said.

“A number have been from winning positions. I spoke during the week about our record from losing positions is brilliant, our record from winning positions could be better.

“That is something we need to improve upon. If we do, then we will be in a good place.”

It was an afternoon that saw the stakes raised significantly in the promotion race.

Portsmouth suffered a surprise, rare defeat at home to Blackpool while Barnsley, Charlton and Peterborough United all won.

Sunderland remain in good shape, still one point behind Luton but still with that game in hand.

Ross says that he will continue to remind his players that they are performing well and in with an excellent chance of achieving their goals for the campaign.

After a challenging summer he remains upbeat about where his squad and his club are at.

“There are loads of different facets to that; one, you are playing for a big club, whether you like Sunderland, hate Sunderland, you can’t dispute this is a big club with an incredible fanbase an incredible infrastructure,” he said.

“That in itself is different to a lot of clubs and brings with it expectation, pressure and responsibility, not just on me but the players.

“The perception of us being in this league, how other clubs perceive visiting this stadium, supporters, how they view picking up a result against us.

“All these things and maybe the view from afar is that only being third in the table is underachieving, that is for some people to judge me on whether that is the case or not.

“We are a good League One team. We are not a Premier League team that has been chucked into League One.

“These are all things that come into the mix.

“I have to be acutely aware of that and continue to make sure that I keep my players on that upbeat, they are good as a group,” he added.

“They need me to drag them along and it is up to me to say don’t leave here with your chin on the floor, leave here knowing you are third in the league, a game in hand, right in amongst it with loads of the season to go.

“They are in a good place. We are not seventh, eight or ninth in the table, thinking can we scratch into the play-offs.

“We have given ourselves a chance.

“It is a balance between the positives, scoring in every league game, the way we play at times, but also recognising the areas we need to improve.

“That is how we approach training and the analysis we do. I have a group that buys into that, it is just reminding them of that constantly.”

The Black Cats are back in action when they travel to Scunthorpe United next weekend.

Having struggled for much of the season, Stuart McCall’s side have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes in recent weeks, winning their last four games in League One.

Lee Novak scored the winner on Saturday as they beat Walsall 2-1.