Sunderland were halted in their tracks in dramatic fashion on Saturday afternoon.
A 2-2 draw felt like daylight robbery for a Mackems side severely off the pace when they travelled to Gresty Road to face Crewe.
This was a performance that was completely out of tune with how the last few weeks have been.
Lee Johnson has made this Sunderland side a force to be reckoned with, recently seeing off fellow promotion hopefuls, Doncaster.
He has made the Black Cats’ attack infinitely better with Charlie Wyke and Aiden McGeady among the most prolific in their position in the league. The former is League One’s second top scorer while nobody has more assists in the entire division than McGeady. That stat defies belief when you consider he didn’t play until December.
Though, there are still issues lingering. McGeady’s utterly anonymous performance last weekend proved that when he’s not providing chances for Wyke, Sunderland really struggle.
So, how does Johnson solve a problem like this one? It’s been a difficult area for him to try and paper over.
McFadzean has shown plenty of times that he can be a liability this season; namely giving away a penalty against Wimbledon back in December. Though, the arrival of Jake Vokins has hardly helped proceedings either.
He was beaten time and time again on his debut in the 2-2 draw with MK Dons and he’s looked sluggish since. With Sunderland also struggling for creativity last Saturday, the case for Jordan Jones to start on the left has become even more appealing.
The Rangers loanee has started just one league game since his arrival in January but he’s shown with vibrant cameos off the bench in recent weeks that he simply has to be part of the XI.
Jones gave us a brief glimpse of what he could offer when he was brought on against Burton. The winger was only on the field for 23 minutes but managed three key passes – the second-highest number of anyone in a Black Cats jersey – and finished the clash with a pass success rate of 100%.
A mazy dribbler, he then truly burst onto the scene in a Sunderland shirt a few days ago. Alongside Chris Maguire, the 26-year-old formed part of a rescue act, scoring a tremendous strike from long range that helped Johnson’s men come back from 2-0 down to draw the match.
His performances should hardly be a surprise, though, especially to Glasgow Live reporter Mark McDougall who spoke about Jones when he first arrived at the Stadium of Light: “In all honesty, he should stroll League One if his attitude is right when he goes down there.”
The journalist added: “He can be a joy to watch when he’s on his game because of how direct and tricky he is.”
Indeed, supporters have already seen glimpses of that tricky nature. It’s now down to Johnson to unleash those qualities on a regular basis. He has to start more often; Vokins and McFadzean cannot be trusted.