Jack Ross reacts to Jon McLaughlin's heroics and the Sunderland selections that helped send the Black Cats to Wembley

Jack Ross hailed Jon McLaughlin after the Scot produced another crucial contribution to Sunderland's season.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 10:45 pm
Jon McLaughlin makes a save from Oli Hawkins

McLaughlin had been Sunderland's stand-out performer in the early stages of the campaign and made a number of strong stops in the second leg against Portsmouth.

One particularly impressive stop from Gareth Evans in the first half was vital in keeping the clean sheet that sends Sunderland back to Wembley for the play-off final.

"You need goalkeepers to make big saves in big games, the teams that are successful will always have good goalkeepers and I have one in Jon," Ross said.

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"His contribution has been very good this season. In recent times he has been far less busy and that is probably reflective in him not winning the player of the year award at our place, if you'd asked anyone in December they would have said he was nailed on for it.

"He hasn't had as many big saves to make but when he was asked to he produced some at really important times.

"Jon has had a terrific season, he is a very good goalkeeper, in recent times he hasn't had that many big saves to make, even though our results haven't been good," he added.

"I certainly wouldn't say he was due a game like that but hes had few big saves to make recently and that's what goalkeepers are there for.

"Jon made a couple of big saves and he deserves that for his performances over the course of the season."

Ross' gameplan came off perfectly as Sunderland saw the game out with relative ease.

He had sprung a surprise by recalling Grant Leadbitter and Chris Maguire, the result a composed performance that quietened the Fratton Park crowd.

"Lee and Grant were very good, we wanted to have control in the game," Ross said.

"Their ability to manage the game is very good and it spreads throughout the team.

"We have some inexperienced players in our team but their composure on and off the ball was important tonight."