Plymouth Argyle and Sunderland rather cancelled each other out at Home Park on Monday with the spoils shared in their respective play-off pushes.
The Black Cats have pulled their way back into the top six picture very nicely in the last month or so, with late goals coming in very handy to fuel their charge.
One consistent performer for the Black Cats, in a range of roles, this season has been Carl Winchester.
The 29-year-old, who signed from Forest Green Rovers in January 2021, has been a mainstay in the first team, under Lee Johnson and Alex Neil, as a right back, a central midfielder and most recently on the right side of a back three.
Winchester is a specialist central midfielder, but has taken on a key role to turn defence from attack, alongside Bailey Wright and Dennis Cirkin in Sunderland’s back three.
Against Argyle, Winchester posted a pass accuracy of 92%, with both sides struggling to break the other down, but the Northern Irishman’s intelligence on the ball in his own third, looks set to continue to play a role in possession in the season’s closing exchanges.
Winchester is growing into the role and completed five interceptions in Devon, and won 85% of his duels, 11 of 13, showing that he is an adequate defender out of possession as well.
What stuck out the most was Winchester’s ambitious passing, potentially something Neil has encouraged by placing him in a deeper role.
Winchester only completed two from six passes into the final third on Monday, two of which were into the penalty area, demonstrating his ambition with the ball at his feet.
Quiz: Did Plymouth Argyle sign these 26 players for a fee or a free?
It is difficult for opposition teams to effectively press a back three, and with such astute ball players like Winchester and Cirkin, Sunderland could continue to be afforded time on the ball at the back.
That will suit Winchester, and as his relationship grows with the attacking players on the right hand side, Jack Clarke played at right wing back against Argyle, his forward pass accuracy should increase and his contributions as a ball playing centre back should as well.
It will be interesting to see how his role develops between now and the end of the season.