Sunderland's Stewart Donald can't stay away as Max shows his mental Power: six things we learned at Walsall

Once again, there was no separating Sunderland and Walsall at the Banks's Stadium.

Sunday, 2nd December 2018, 8:51 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd December 2018, 10:50 am
Stewart Donald among the Sunderland fans
Stewart Donald among the Sunderland fans

Just a week after the pair shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw in League One, there again proved to be little difference between the pair in the FA Cup.

But what lessons can Ross take from the cup tie in the Midlands?

Stewart Donald among the Sunderland fans

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Here’s six key lessons the Black Cats must take:

1. Max has the mental Power

Perhaps the main talking point in the build-up to the clash was Power’s return to a ground where, just seven days previously, he had picked up a third red card of the season.

While the suspension was ultimately overturned, returning to the same venue so quickly was always going to prove a mental test.

Max showed his mental Power at Sunderland

MORE: Dean Keates reveals his half-time message to Walsall squadBut it was one Power passed with flying colours.

He dictated the play in the centre of the park and was arguably the Black Cats’ best player in what turned into a feisty encounter.

2. Jon McLaughlin’s importance is ever-growing

While the likes of Josh Maja and Chris Maguire may have hit the headlines for their success going forward, McLaughlin too deserves some praise.

The Scot yet again produced heroics on the road, making some fine saves when Walsall upped the pressure in the second half.

READ: Jack Ross on the FA Cup draw and why his side looked 'leggy'One stop in particular - from Morgan Ferrier after he broke through one-on-one, earned applause from all corners.

3. Set-pieces are a potential area of improvement

Much was made earlier this season about the Black Cats’ problems defending set-pieces.

While they now look much more comfortable dealing with corners in their own box, questions could be asked about the effectiveness of their attacking deliveries.

MORE: The latest on Chris Maguire after his late withdrawal from the Sunderland squadA string of corners came to nothing at the Banks’s Stadium, and Ross may see this as a potential area to build on.

4. Partnerships are starting to flourish across the park

Injuries and circumstance meant the Sunderland side was often chopped and changed at the start of the campaign.

But now, with Ross able to name a settled side, partnerships are starting to develop.

RATINGS: A mixed bag for the Black Cats after FA Cup clashPerhaps the most notable is that of Reece James and Aiden McGeady down the left flank - the pair combining to devestating effect going forward while remaining solid at the back.

Long may that continue.

5. Stewart Donald just can’t keep away

For a second consecutive weekend, the Sunderland chairman joined the travelling support at the Banks’s Stadium.

The owner is continuing his commitment to join the fans and is obviously loving his away days.

READ: FA Cup replay details as the Black Cats prepare to welcome WalsallHe may well be happy not to return to Walsall after consecutive weekends, though.

6. There’s still a place for Bali Mumba

The Sunderland youngster has struggled for sustained first-team involvement this season, but is still very much part of Jack Ross’ plans.

His energy and enthusiasm helped to drive the Black Cats forward when they were under the cosh in the second half and he proved exactly what he can offer to Ross’ side.

In the short-term he may have to wait for chances but, when they present themselves, the 17-year-old has shown he can take the opportunity.