Jack Ross delivers his verdict as Sunderland climb the League One table with Rochdale win
Jack Ross hailed his players for coming through a difficult contest and making it back-to-back league wins against Rochdale.
Brian Barry-Murphy’s side have had an impressive start to the season and caused a lot of problems for the Black Cats, who battled through thanks to goals from Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke.
Ross said coming through challenges like this one could be key over the course of the season.
“One thing we learned last year was the importance in tight games of turning one point into three, one way or another,” Ross said.
“It was something that ultimately probably cost us in terms of achieving what we wanted to do. I’ve stressed that to the players, you’d love to come here, play really well, win two or three nil and have everybody tell you how you good you are, but the truth is in this league it’s not like that all that often.
“Rochdale are a good side who have started the season well. It was a tough game but to come away from home midweek and win, it’s good at any stage of the season.
“I spoke before about how good a job Brian has done,” he added.
“We knew before that game it could happen [have a lot of possession] and we also believed we’d be able to take the ball off them at times and exploit them in the final third, and that did happen on occasions.
“The period in the second half when we were good and dominant, if we get the third goal it makes the latter part of the game more comfortable, if you’re only a goal up you are always going to come under pressure in the latter part of the game.
“We could have dealt with it a little better and been a bit more composed, but I get it, I’ve been there and it’s easier on the sidelines.
“We know how important it is to win games like this because we weren’t that far away last season in terms of the points we needed, and we know we probably drew too many games.
“You’re going to get tight games in this league, and it’s important you come out on top of as many as you can. If you look at Luton and Barnsley from last season, I’m pretty sure you’ll see that they both came through quite a few games like this.”
Ross did concede his frustrations with the goal that saw Rochdale quickly level, and urged his side to make the most of their generally improved defending.
“For us to go ahead, the goal [we conceded] was poor from our point of view. That is frustrating, because in the main we have done defended quite well, it’s just the softness of the goals we’ve conceded in isolated incidents we need to get better at.
“Then we’ll get the clean sheets and that’s crucial for us, because by and large we always score.”
Ross did praise his players for seeing out late pressure for the second time in a matter of days.
“It’s a big boost [to hold out] because the truth is you’re never going to get away from that in this league.
“Away from home in particular, and even when you’re at home, when you only have that one goal advantage, teams go for it. They play a lot of balls forward and put a lot of crosses in the box.
“It was maybe a failing of us last season, just to see out those phases of the game and be strong enough.
“I think we’ve defended the box in the main well, and when we haven’t, we’ve relied on our goalkeeper and that’s what good teams do. In wasn’t quite the manner we would like to see out that last ten minutes, but you’re going to have to do that in this league.”