safc.com’s Sam Lightle takes a look at some of the talking points from our first away trip of the season.
Josh Maja scored his second goal in as many games as the Lads returned from Luton Town with another point on the board to leave them eighth in Sky Bet League One.
MINUTES IN THE TANK
When Glenn Loovens joined Sunderland, supporters from Sheffield Wednesday were quick to highlight the class, leadership and experience he has. Of course, at the age of 34, you’d expect him to have the latter, but after just playing 45 minutes in pre-season – we’re starting to see the other two following two sets of 90 minutes in the tank. The Dutchman was solid throughout at Kenilworth Road, making a number of vital interceptions and blocks to keep the scores level and ensure Sunderland didn’t crack as the Hatters went in search of a winner.
With Charlie Wyke and Jerome Sinclair sidelined, youngster Josh Maja has certainly seized his chance at the start of the season having scored two in two. Linking up well with last Saturday’s hero, Lynden Gooch, for his goal at Kenilworth Road – Maja oozed class as he moved into the inside right channel before rolling the ball into the opposite corner. Last season, Maja enjoyed a hot streak of form in pre-season before being cruelly dealt an injury blow which kept him out ‘til December. Hopefully this time, Maja can continue to shine…
MAKING A MARK
It was suggested in Jack Ross’ press conference on Thursday that Jack Baldwin would feature at Kenilworth Road, so it was no surprise to see him line-up at the back alongside Loovens. With bags of experience at this level, Baldwin looked calm and assured alongside the warrior that Loovens was. Max Power was the second debutant, and he was equally, if not more so, impressive in the middle of the park as he offered strength and a purpose. Having won Sky Bet League One in two of his previous three seasons, he knows what it takes, and he will without doubt have a major say on how we get on this season.
ANOTHER POINT ON THE BOARD
While it wasn’t the three we’d hoped for, it is another point on the board that could turn into a positive one come May. Like last weekend, we showed a resilience and a grit when it mattered most. While we came from behind to win last Saturday, our match at Luton required us to stand firm as they waved forward in the closing stages after levelling through Matty Pearson. Having dealt with the physicality Luton threw at us, a point at Kenilworth Road might not be a bad one after all.