Sunderland's League One promotion hopes going down to the wire as trio impress: Six things learned from Barnsley draw

Sunderland remain four points adrift of Barnsley following the goalless draw at Oakwell but with a game in hand on their promotion rivals.

Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:23 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th March 2019, 9:28 am
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

Here’s what we learned from the wind-affected draw.

Storm Gareth makes life difficult

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

Britain was battered with strong winds and rain on Tuesday evening, Oakwell suffering the same fate as Storm Gareth took hold.

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The wind was with Barnsley first half and they made better use of it than Sunderland did after the break.

Sunderland only carved out a few clear chances, both falling to Max Power either side of the break, while Lee Cattermole diverted a good cross wide.

The strong winds made it difficult for attractive, free-flowing football and the game suffered as a result.

Jon McLaughlin makes an important save in the draw with Barnsley.

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If you can’t win, don’t lose!

Sunderland were not at their fluid best at Oakwell, they also had to do their fair share of defending.

With the Black Cats struggling to break down the Tykes and carve out clear openings, it was imperative they kept it tight at the back.

And they did so.

It was a resilient, hard-fought defensive display, Cattermole also helping shield with defence with three excellent blocks.

Jon McLaughlin produces big saves when it matters

The wind made it treacherous for the goalkeepers, goal kicks a lottery.

McLaughlin produced some big saves when it mattered most, helping keep the dangerous Mamadou Thiam at bay.

He also commanded his area well in tough conditions.

Fully deserved his Scotland call-up, the signing of the season.

Jack Baldwin impressive on his return to side.

The ex-Peterborough United defender was dropped in recent weeks following a run of mistakes and erratic displays.

Ross says Baldwin has played a lot of football this season and it proved the correct decision to take him out the firing line for a few games.

He was impressive on his return, the most comfortable Sunderland defender with the ball at his feet, he brings the ball out from the back with composure and almost provided an assist for Max Power.

Defensively solid, commanding at the back winning important headers and covering tackles.

Max Power also caught the eye, playing in a more advanced midfield role, though he should have scored when through on goal, prodding wide under pressure.

Wingers struggle.

It was an off night for both Lynden Gooch and Aiden McGeady.

The pair had little luck down either flank, despite switching several times throughout the game in a bid to try and spark some life into Sunderland’s attacking play.

It just didn’t happen for either, Gooch subbed in the second half.

With Chris Maguire and Duncan Watmore now out injured and George Honeyman suspended for two more games, Gooch has a chance to establish himself but he didn’t take it at Barnsley.

Automatic promotion no closer for Sunderland as goalscoring run ends

The race for automatic promotion is fierce, relentless and looks set to go down to the final game of the season.

Sunderland remain four points off Barnsley with a game in hand, Portsmouth got back to winning ways and are now just two points behind the Black Cats in fourth.

Luton Town won again, beating Bradford City away and they are on course to lift the title.

All eyes on the battle for second place.