To see his number go up will have been a source of real frustration for Lynden Gooch.
For Sunderland it was needs must and the obvious change to make, Gooch more aware of that anyone.
WIth Alim Ozturk seeing red Jack Ross needed to get Jimmy Dunne and so Gooch's evening came to an early end.
The frustration was that after a challenging calendar year so far, the 23-year-old looked to be rediscovering some of the spark that led to such a productive opening to the season.
After the introduction of Chris Maguire Gooch has switched to the left flank and he had the beating of Nathan Thompson on numerous occasions.
He was desperately unlucky not to produce an assist when his cross for George Honeyman was somehow blocked by the face of Craig MacGillivray.
Gooch had only discovered he was playing shortly before kick off, Aiden McGeady forced to pull out due to his troublesome foot.
It was, Gooch hopes, a platform to build on.
"I've been out of form for a while, I've been under scrutiny from the fans a lot and rightly so, they know I'm what capable of and what I can bring on my day," he said.
"Unfortunately I've not been able to play at the best like at the start of the season, that's been really frustrating for me but tonight I thought I did well considering I came into the side late. I created some good opportunities for us to score.
"I was really enjoying it, every time I got the ball and was running at them and creating chances," he added.
"On another day I could have had a couple of assists but the main thing was getting the win.
"It's a brilliant save from George's header, he's unlucky.
"Even first half I thought I did well, tried to keep it simple and created a few chances. I tried to use my energy and in the second half I thought I was playing well, hopefully I can take that forward."
The dip in form has ben hard to explain but manager Jack Ross believes he has often been trying too hard to make something happen in games.
He was encouraged to see such an important player at the start of the season seemingly finding his geet again.
"He was good and I am pleased for him, it has been a frustrating period for him, in and out the team with niggling injuries," Ross said.
“The impact first half of the season was really good. The one thing with Lynden is he never lacks effort, application and his desire to do well for the club is huge.
“Sometimes that can manifest itself in trying too hard, it can affect your decision making, that has maybe been the case a little bit recently. Saturday was much more like him.
“We had to bring him off to adjust and get Jimmy on the pitch. I was pleased for Lynden though.”
The tie remains wide open but Gooch said this '100%' a result Sunderland could be happy with.
"The lads were brilliant, had some good chances and were unlucky not to score another one," he said.
"We were unlucky not to score just before Chris came on, then we dug deep with ten and got the result.
"We were on top, pressing for another goal [when the red came].
"In that respect it's frustrating but considering how the game panned out it's a great result for us and a good platform to go there next week and hopefully kick on to get to the final.
A second leg in front of a sold out Fratton Park will be a major test for Sunderland but they will take much confidence from getting their first win of the season against Kenny Jackett's side.
"We've played them a lot this season and played well every time we've played them, even down their place with ten men we played well up until the red card," Gooch said.
"We know we're good enough and we showed that again tonight.
"We were really solid after the red, really compact, everyone worked really hard off the ball. It was a good performance."
Whether Gooch keeps his place remains to be seen, but he will be needed at some point and the confidence taken from this display could be vital.