Sunderland lost ground on the promotion-chasing teams in the League One table, as they fell to a 2-0 defeat against Lincoln City at Sincil Bank on Saturday.
The Black Cats came into the game unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, but struggled to find their rhythm against a well-drilled Lincoln side.
But an own goal from Jon McLaughlin and a second-half goal from Tyler Walker proved to be enough for the Imps, as they recorded their first league win since they beat Fleetwood Town at the end of August.
It could have been even worse for Jack Ross’ side on the day, with Walker missing from the penalty-spot during the second-half.
The result means that Sunderland sit sixth in the League One table, and will be looking to get back to winning-ways when they’re next in action against Grimsby Town in the EFL Trophy.
We look at THREE things we learnt about Sunderland after this disappointing defeat.
Jack Ross is coming under increasing pressure
The expectation from Sunderland’s supporters will be promotion this season, and it’s clear to see why as they have already shown in the past that they can blow teams away in League One.
But they lack consistency in their performances, which is starting to irritate the club’s supporters, and rightly so.
They’re not good enough away from home at the moment, and with every defeat or dropped points that occur this season, it means that the pressure grows on Jack Ross.
He’s skating on thin ice with a number of the club’s supporters already this season, and this result won’t have done him any favours at all.
Ross’ team selection was questionable
Marc McNulty and Aiden McGeady were both left on the substitutes bench for the game against the Imps, as they returned to the matchday squad after injury.
But there will always be the argument as to why they couldn’t have started the game if they were fit enough to be on the substitutes bench.
They’ve been key to Sunderland’s positive performances so far this season, and Ross only brought the pair on shortly after half-time.
But by that time Sunderland were already a goal down, and conceded again shortly after. You have to start your best players, and McNulty and McGeady are certainly some of them.
Jon McLaughlin’s spot could be up for grabs
McLaughlin hasn’t filled Sunderland supporters with much confidence between the posts this season, and he struggled in the game against Lincoln on Saturday.
He scored an own goal in the game, and the pressure could be starting to grow on the goalkeeper, who could find it difficult to retain his place in the starting XI as the season progresses.
Lee Burge has already shown that he can perform to a high standard, after keeping a clean sheet against Sheffield United in the Carabao Cup earlier this season.
This costly error from McLaughlin could be a blessing in disguise for Sunderland going forward in this year’s campaign.