Six things: Sunderland squad now have two BIG reasons to thank Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan

Sunderland moved to third in League One thanks to a 2-1 win over Bradford City at Valley Parade.

Sunday, 7th October 2018, 9:52 am
Updated Sunday, 7th October 2018, 9:58 am
Jon McLaughlin saves Jack Payne's penalty.
Jon McLaughlin saves Jack Payne's penalty.

Here's what we learned from the hard-fought victory.

Imperative Sunderland got back to winning ways.

Jon McLaughlin saves Jack Payne's penalty.

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In what is proving a fiercely competitive League One, it was absolutely vital that Sunderland got back to winning ways on Saturday.

And they did, albeit doing it the hard way once again.

The hard-fought victory came on the same day Portsmouth, Peterborough United and Doncaster Rovers were all beaten at home, the Black Cats rising to third, now just four points off the top.

The top of the division is incredibly competitive with just four points separating Accrington Stanley in 7th - just outside the play-offs - and Posh who are second in the table.

Sunderland were backed by almost 3,000 away fans at Bradford City.

Max Power's moment of madness will cost him.

By the time Power returns to first team action, he will have missed a total of nine games through suspension.

His first red card saw him miss three games plus the Checkatrade Trophy match against Stoke City U21s and as this was his second red of the season, it is automatically a four-game ban.

Power will be forced to sit out the games at Shrewsbury and Doncaster, Southend at home and Plymouth Argyle away plus the visit of Carlisle United in the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday.

Nine games in total. It was a moment of madness, hot on the heels of Bryan Oviedo's similar moment of madness in midweek.

Power will have plenty of time to reflect on his actions, with Dylan McGeouch and George Honeyman battling it out for a recall.

Cattermole shows his experience to help guide Sunderland home.

Chris Maguire and Cattermole were among the more experienced players to help guide the Black Cats home against Bradford City when they went down to ten men.

It has been a remarkable turnaround for Cattermole this season, as Jack Ross said himself the relationship between the midfielder and fans has been rebuilt in spectacular fashion.

Cattermole again serenaded off by the near 3,000-strong away support, the fans fully appreciative of his efforts.

Ross said: "He’s enjoying himself and that’s a big part of football, he is enjoying being on the pitch, trying to win games, and performing the way he is doing.

"He is going to be a very important player for us over the course of the whole season."

McLaughlin showed his class against former club.

The Sunderland squad has Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan to thank for a weekend off this week and they had double cause for celebration after the duo helped the Black Cats to a big win.

Ex-Bradford City keeper McLaughlin was afforded a warm welcome on his return to Valley Parade.

But it was the away fans cheering him off at the final whistle after his penalty save helped Sunderland to victory.

It was a superb stop, diving to his right to deny Jack Payne's fiercely struck effort. A great penalty stop, one of the saves of the season.

Almost as good as the follow-up defending from Flanagan.

The defender had to be alert and on his toes to brilliantly get to the rebound first to push the ball behind for a corner and deny Payne again. Superb defending.

Reece James proved he is up to the task.

With the suspended Oviedo sitting out the first of his three game ban and Denver Hume a week into a six-week injury lay-off, James was recalled at left-back.

And he didn't let anybody down; defensively he was very sound and while he may lack the attacking threat that both Hume and Oviedo offer, James showed he can be a solid option at left-back.

This is an opportunity for him to nail down a place in the side and take advantage of the opportunity presented and he made a solid start. So far, so good.

Josh Maja is deadly in the penalty area.

It was no fluke. It was an expertly timed chest of the ball to deflect Lee Cattermole's volley into the corner of the Bradford City goal.

There was initial confusion as to whose goal it was, given it looked on first viewing that Cattermole had just volleyed Sunderland in front.

But on closer inspection it was the 19-year-old striker who had netted his ninth of the campaign in just 12 games. A remarkable run of form.

Maja is proving to be deadly in the penalty area, usually via clinical finishing with his feet but this time it was with his chest.