There are few more enjoyable experiences for a Sunderland fan than witnessing Aiden McGeady at his tormenting best. The former Republic of Ireland international still possesses an array of tricks and skills to deceive defenders, along with his ability to let fly with either foot.
When the Black Cats really needed someone to step-up and drag them back into contention, away from home, down a man, trailing by two goals, it was McGeady who acted as Sunderland’s saviour.
His half-volley on 62 minutes was crucial in shifting momentum at the Bescot Stadium and capped an all-round productive display from the former Celtic man. His man of the match performance means he tops the Roker Report Power Rankings for the first time.
Joining him in the top three is Lynden Gooch, who climbs back up to second after a few decisive contributions against Walsall. The-22-year-old struggled for the most part against the Saddlers, but came up clutch when Sunderland really needed him, crossing for McGeady’s goal and scoring a superb equaliser.
Chris Maguire was forced to start Saturday’s match on the bench, but that didn’t stop our mercurial forward from forcing his way back into the top three. Whilst not directly responsible for either of the Mackems goals it was Maguire who acted as a link man and an outlet to help get Sunderland back into the game.
Tom Flanagan and Josh Maja both exit the top five after sub-par performances - the former struggled without a midfielder to shield him from attacks after Max Power’s sending off. Maja had one of those quiet games he has from time to time - he just couldn’t match the physicality of Walsall’s defenders.
1: Aiden McGeady (3) - Champion for the first time after arguably his best performance of the season - the 32-year-old has played some of his best football in red and white this month.
2: Lynden Gooch (9) - Even when struggling to find his best form, when the Lads really needed Gooch to step-up he delivered with an assist and terrific goal, and that’s enough to move him back up into second place.
3: Chris Maguire (5) - A wonderful cameo has Maguire back in the top three, his and Luke O’Nien’s energy off the bench was crucial in reenergising a team that played with ten-men for well over an hour in Walsall.
4: Jon McLaughlin (4) - Stays in the top five as he was faultless for both goals and the quality of his distribution remains top-drawer.
5: Adam Matthews (7) - In the top five for the first time. Matthews’ consistently brilliant performances have forced us to continually raise his position in our weekly standings.
6: George Honeyman (6) - Stays at six after putting in an excellent shift after Power’s dismissal.
7: Josh Maja (1) - Drops six places from the top spot after letting Saturday’s clash with Walsall pass him by; he was completely ineffective.
8: Tom Flanagan (2) - Plummets from his usual top five placement after an uncharacteristically nervous performance.
9: Reece James (8) - Falls one spot after looking more vulnerable than usual against Walsall, the former Wigan man was partially at fault for the Saddlers’ opener.
10: Luke O’Nien (14) - Breaks into the top ten for the first time after reclaiming his super-sub role to great effect. Like Maguire, the industrious midfielder’s introduction was integral to Sunderland’s fight back.
11: Bryan Oviedo (11) - Remains at eleven after impressing in a midfield role - the Costa Rica international might have rose further if he wasn’t the man sacrificed after Power’s red card.
12: Max Power (17) - Was handed a first start in league action for quite some time and was arguably Sunderland’s best player before he was dismissed, a red card which has now been overturned. It would appear that he’s getting a reputation with the sub-par referees at this level.
13: Dylan McGeouch (12) - Missed out at Walsall due to injury.
14: Jerome Sinclair (13) - An unused sub at the Bescot Stadium with Maguire being more suited to leading a ten-man attack. Poor performances elsewhere keep the hard-working forward at 13.
15: Jack Baldwin (15) - Baldwin’s puzzling form continues - he vacated a huge amount of space for Walsall’s opener and has looked slow and sluggish in recent fixtures.
16: Lee Cattermole (16) - Not in contention to return to first-team action until the FA Cup.
17: Glenn Loovens (17) - Maybe in contention to break-up the Flanagan-Baldwin partnership that has looked more vulnerable in recent weeks.
18: Alim Ozturk (16) - Still on the fringes of the first team. The Walsall cup meeting could reveal more clearly whether the Turkish stopper is our third or fourth choice centre back.
19: Denver Hume (19) - A long-term absentee that other players haven’t done enough to displace from the top 20.
20: Bali Mumba (20) - Stays at 20 after remaining on the bench at Walsall. Mumba did however represent the England Under 18s twice during the international break.
21: Robbin Ruiter 22: Benji Kimpioka 23: Charlie Wyke 24: Ethan Robson 25: Donald Love 26: Jack Diamond 27: Jake Hackett 28: Lee Connelly 29: Jack Bainbridge 30: Brandon Taylor 31: Jordan Hunter 32: Daniel Neil 33: Duncan Watmore.