Jack Ross keeps his cool as Will Grigg shows his class: Six things learned from Sunderland's semi-final win at Bristol Rovers
Sunderland are through to the final of the Checkatrade Trophy thanks to a 2-0 semi-final win over Bristol Rovers.
Here’s what we learned from the victory at the Memorial Stadium.
Strong side pays off for Jack Ross
Sunderland have been building momentum nicely in recent weeks, they made the trip down to Bristol on the back of three straight League One wins.
Ross was keen to maintain that rhythm and consistency and so named a very strong side for the Checkatrade Trophy clash.
Just two changes and both of those forced upon him, Lee Cattermole and Reece James out with minor knocks.
Robbin Ruiter had started every game in the competition but Jon McLaughlin was between the sticks at the Memorial Stadium and helped Sunderland keep another clean sheet.
Sunderland’s first goal was made in Wigan.
With the game evenly poised, Sunderland got the breakthrough just before the half-time whistle.
Adam Matthews spotted Max Power in space with a throw-in, the former Wigan midfielder then produced a stunning eye-of-the-needle pass to find Will Grigg, also ex-Wigan, of course.
With one touch with his right, he took the ball away from the defender before firing low into the corner of the net with his left boot.
A clinical finish. Exactly why Sunderland signed him. Grigg is a class act. And with his first goal from open play under his belt, there’ll be no stopping him.
Jimmy Dunne and Tom Flanagan partnership continues to flourish.
The pair were superb again helping Sunderland to another clean sheet.
The Black Cats had to sustain a fair amount of pressure second half but Jon McLaughlin’s goal was rarely threatened such was the performance of the duo in front of him.
Jack Baldwin was back on the bench but this is now very much Ross’ first choice defensive pairing.
Jack Ross maintains his cool.
The Scot is very rarely flustered and post-match he was as cool, calm and collected as ever.
Sunderland had just reached a Wembley final yet Ross was managing to keep a lid on things, while naturally delighted, promotion still remains the number one priority.
He was right to point out though that reaching the final is just reward for the stunning Sunderland support.
What a day that will be.
Lewis Morgan again shows his quality.
The Celtic loanee showed his class at the Memorial Stadium, reacting quickest to Lynden Gooch’s blocked effort to prod Sunderland into a 2-0 lead.
Rovers did press Sunderland back from then on but clear cut chances were few and far between for the hosts.
It was as comfortable a semi-final win as you’ll see.
Morgan has impressed in the last three games and his first goal for the club will further boost his confidence.
Sunderland will have to ensure they maintain standards on Saturday.
This weekend, Sunderland are back on the road again.
The Black Cats make the long trip to Wycombe Wanderers and while there will naturally be a lot of excitement around reaching a Wembley final, the priority remains promotion.
And Ross will be drumming that message into his players over the coming days, there is no room to slip-up in a fiercely intense automatic promotion race.
No time to catch breath.