Aiden McGeady won praise after producing a man of the match performance when Sunderland needed it most.
With the Black Cats a man and two goals down away to Walsall, the experienced midfielder grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.
Jack Ross switched formation early in the second half following Walsall’s opener, with McGeady given a free role.
And the Republic of Ireland international helped steer Sunderland to a big point on the road, scoring the first and proving a constant menace for the Walsall defenders.
With Sunderland going a goal down early in the second half, Ross replaced Bryan Oviedo - who had started in an advanced position on the left wing - with Luke O’Nien.
Ross said: “I toyed with the idea of making that change at half time. Our hand was forced a bit after the start to the second half.
“Luke O’Nien’s contribution was brilliant as a sub, we changed our system and gave Aiden a much freer role.
“There is an element of risk in that but he is an intelligent footballer, what he did was pick up areas that meant he could cause them problems. That last 30/40 minutes of the game he was very, very good.”
Ross switched from his usual 4-2-3-1 system to 4-4-2 for the trip to the Banks’s Stadium, with Oviedo recalled in a more advanced role ahead of Reece James at left back.
Oviedo and McGeady constantly changed wings in the early stages, a period Sunderland dominated, before Ross had to rejig his formation following Max Power’s red card, his third of the campaign.
Ross added: “The Oviedo change was just tactical, we toyed with the idea at half-time.
“It was always a change we were going to make, it was just accelerated a little bit.”
Sunderland remain second in League One but are now four points adrift of leaders Portsmouth, Pompey beating Scunthorpe United 2-1 away.