Stephen Elliott: This is what has impressed me about Rangers loanee Jordan Jones as Sunderland rescue point

Just when you think everything is in place and the team has started to really click, along comes that little sting in the tail to take you by surprise.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:30 pm

Thankfully, that sting which presented itself on Saturday didn’t end up hurting the team too badly.

First off, Crewe Alexandra have some decent young players, but I would be surprised if many Sunderland supporters, or players for that matter, would have guessed how that first half at Gresty Road would have played out.

Myself, like many of you no doubt, expected the team to continue on their recent good form and put another marker down as the new team to be fearful of in the division.

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Sunderland players celebrate the late equaliser at Crewe Alexandra.
Sunderland players celebrate the late equaliser at Crewe Alexandra.

Crewe had other ideas and played with the tempo I was expecting from the Sunderland team.

For some reason - which I can’t pinpoint - Sunderland seemed to struggle to get out of the blocks. Crewe took full advantage and punished them with two goals, and if we are honest, it could have been more.

Possibly going from the three at the back we saw on Tuesday to a back four, may have caused a bit of confusion in the team.

Even so, it doesn’t excuse how little energy Sunderland played with throughout that first half on Saturday. It was a real lacklustre display by the team and one that hopefully won’t be seen too regularly from now till the end of the season.

Lee Johnson claimed after the game that he could have made five changes after 20 minutes, and this tells you everything you need to know about his views on the first half performance.

While the start of the second half was a little better than the first, the real catalyst for Saturday’s comeback was the introduction of Jordan Jones.

While he has come on in the last couple of games and showed us glimpses of what he can do, on Saturday he took this to the next level. He grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and lifted the whole team with his driving runs.

He demanded the ball and had a real positive demeanour about him from the moment he was introduced, so it was no surprise to me that he was the one to finally break down the Crewe defence.

His goal (and what a goal it was) was hugely needed and was a big reason the team ended up with an unlikely point. Come the end of the season it could be a significant point.

Chris Maguire, a guy with undoubted quality, must have been wondering recently whether he has a future at this football club. He has seldom featured since Johnson’s arrival.

On Saturday though, he reminded both Johnson and the Sunderland fans exactly how important he can be.

He could still be a big asset as we come towards the business end of the season. His goal was quite simply sublime.

There aren’t many players in this division who possess that kind of technical quality.

In the end the point moved Sunderland closer to the top two, and as I mentioned before, it feels like it could be an important one.

It’s onto Tuesday now and hopefully the team can continue the momentum that was reignited in that final 15 minutes.

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