Jack Ross's Sunderland are becoming a side you just can't wait to see next

Four goals of superb quality, relentless movement off the ball and the character to bounce back from an early setback.

Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 8:38 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd August 2018, 8:40 am
Sunderland celebrate their third goal of the evening

This was a big tick in the box for Jack Ross’s Sunderland, their first away league win of the season, seven goals in two games.

Already, they are one of the most exciting teams to wear the red and white shirt for many a season.

Sunderland celebrate their third goal of the evening

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Gone is the deep defence, the cautious passing, the static formations.

Ross, true to the style that turned so many heads north of the border, is building a side that can spring and score from anywhere on the pitch.

They take risks, they cede chances, and they leave their centre-backs some uncomfortable situations to deal with.

Time and time again, Jack Baldwin and Glenn Loovens were forced into last-ditch action, but with risk comes significant reward.

More games like this, and they’ll be opening the top tier at the Stadium of Light before long.

The scoreline was emphatic, even if Ross will know his team was not always in complete control.

You only had to glance at the technical area throughout to see that.

Ross, normally reserved and stoic on the touchline, was ticking for large periods.

His support staff raced to and from the dugout, passing on instructions to a defence that creaked for spells of the game.

The opening half reflected a Sunderland side that can look edgy when they lose the ball but are utterly exhilarating when breaking forward.

There are defensive concerns, unquestionably.

Flaws to be ironed out, absolutely.

But the quality of movement and speed of passing in attack is of the like not seen at this club for a number of years.

The opening goal will have left the travelling support enduring an uncomfortable sense of deja-vu, the kind of goal that was gifted away on countless occasions last season.

There looked to be little danger when a cross was floated into the box from the right flank, but a lack of communication left Jon McLaughlin stranded and Tom Eaves had the easiest of finishes, heading into the far corner.

The travelling support, who had swayed to the strains of Sweet Caroline before the game, basking in the uncovered Town End, were shocked but the response that followed from their team showed that this is a very different Sunderland.

They were back on terms within minutes, Chris Maguire turning a corner in at the back post.

Two wonderful goals followed before 20 minutes had been played.

The first was made in the Academy of Light, Lynden Gooch and Josh Maja combining before George Honeyman hammered home via a deflection.

Max Power added a third when Gooch again flew down the right. He cut the ball back across goal and the midfielder, fast becoming a fan favourite, took one touch before sweeping home.

The Black Cats threatened every time they broke forward, but the hosts continued to find gaps in their defence and Jack Ross cut an increasingly disgruntled figure as the half came to a close.

The opening to the second period did little to allay the manager’s concerns, the hosts again creating a hatful of opportunities.

Lee Cattermole showed outstanding awareness to cover the goal and head a chip from Eaves off the line, before McLaughlin did well to turn the ball away from Josh Parker.

After the free-flowing football of the early stages, Sunderland again found themselves under intense pressure as they had at Luton a week previous.

The home crowd roared their side on, sensing the tide of the game turning.

Sunderland were rocking, but their composure in front of goal settled the game just as it looked like it would open up again.

Reece James won the ball high up the pitch, crossing into the box where Josh Maja received the ball with two defenders close by.

His finish was delicate, yet another decisive intervention from the 19-year-old.

Gillingham were not quite down and out, McLaughlin somehow turning the ball away from a goalmouth scramble that seemed certain to restore a two-goal deficit.

Sunderland came through, seeing the game out and building more momentum after an impressive start to the season.

Though teams will feel there are areas where they can hurt Sunderland, Ross has set his still out. He clearly believes that in a open game the quality of his side will win out, and so far he has been proven correct.

Sunderland may not be the finished article, but they are absolutely unmissable.

Long may that continue.