Jack Ross hailed the key contributions of two of his summer signings in the 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers.
Jon McLaughlin kept Sunderland in the game on the stroke of half-time with two superb saves to deny Mallik Wilks and then Matty Blair in one v one situations.
It proved a pivotal moment as Sunderland scored the winner just two minutes into the second half, Chris Maguire with his fourth after good work in the build-up from Lynden Gooch.
Maguire was a constant thorn in the side of the Rovers defence, the fan favourite thoroughly enjoying his time in the spotlight at Sunderland.
Ross said: “It goes back to the thinking of bringing him to the club in the first place, he thrives on that responsibility and pressure, his best spells in his career are when he is handed that responsibility.
“He is quite easy to manage, he has a good relationship with me and my staff, that helps.
“We are seeing the best of him and when you see the best of him, he is a good player.
“He has played at a good level, he has matchwinning ability which is important in the squad.”
Ross was also full of praise for his goalkeeper, a key signing this summer after last season’s trouble between the sticks.
Ross added: “Jon has been very good and he is so low maintenance for me as a manager, his ability, training and performances in games.
“If you speak to Jon he will say that is his job, the bits that he did on Saturday, that’s what you’d expect him to do. The big moments, that is why I was so keen to bring him to the club.
“I thought we defended well, through the course of the game. Two moments of poor decision making on half-time and we needed Jon to bail us out and he did that, he knows how much of
a contribution he made.
“The other players do and you need that over a course of the season.”