October crunch month for Sunderland but Preston performance hints at better times to come

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.
Sunderland boss Simon Grayson.
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One point out of six from the last two away games isn’t a great return, but after a heavy defeat at Ipswich, at least Sunderland showed some fighting spirit and deserved their point at in-form Preston when many were fearing another loss.

Predictably, ex-Sunderland man Martyn Waghorn tormented us at Ipswich with the opening goal and assists as Sunderland’s defence collapsed conceding five.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

So the players must have gone to Deepdale with confidence and morale on the floor, but backed by incredible 3,000-strong loyal fans, they at least went some way to making up for the thumping at Portman Road and their efforts were appreciated by the huge away support.

When you are second bottom of the Championship, you have to take every crumb of comfort and there were positive signs at Deepdale to lift the doom and gloom that so many defeats and bad performances inevitably bring.

The biggest positive has to be the return of Duncan Watmore, his 30-minute cameo showed he has lost none of his pace and his constant movement and direct style will be a huge boost to Simon Grayson when he eventually regains full fitness and is able to start week in, week out.

He even survived an outrageous challenge from the Preston keeper but just got up and dusted himself down - no damage done thankfully.

Although we still haven’t kept a clean sheet this campaign and conceded another two on Saturday, I still thought we looked better organised with the players more comfortable in their roles.

Four goals in two away games isn’t a bad return with Aiden McGeady claiming a couple, both of them top drawer finishes as was his other at Norwich and up front at Preston I thought James Vaughan led the line well.

One point at Preston doesn’t suddenly make everything right or make up for the many disappointments that have gone before, especially at home with four consecutive defeats, but it was a definite improvement and gave hope that there might just be better times ahead.