Late second half goals from substitues Dan Neil and Patrick Roberts were enough to dispatch of bottom placed Crewe in a frustrating encounter. Similar to Tueday night's win over Fleetwood, it was second half substitutions that shifted the course of the game and meant we could keep pace with teams around us.
The opener on 84 minutes was described as lovely play by best online casino australia between Neil and Ross Stewart, who received the ball into feet, held play up neatly before returning the ball to Neil who fired home at the near post; showcasing the quality we have seen in fits and bursts throughout the campaign.
The game was sealed a few minutes later as the industrious Jack Clarke linked up with Roberts. The former Man City man showed tidy close control with two touches opening up the opportunity for a neat finish for his first Sunderland goal.
Despite the overall stats heavily indicating Sunderland's dominance, with Crewe's passing woeful in general with just a 45% accuracy rating, a better team might have taken advantage of some laboured defending from the homeside. All of their opportunities came from amateur lapses in concentration from the back line, poor marking and poor passing; not dissimilar to the goal Fleetwood scored. Thankfully, Crewe do not have a decent finisher and were unable to capitalise, forcing one solitary, and comfortable, save from Anthony Patterson.
Once again early substitutions on the 59th minute changed the game and Sunderland began to look more comfortable and Crewe were looking tired. As well as eventual goalscorer Nei, Leon Dajaku was also introduced replacing the disappointing enigma that is Lynden Gooch. The two pace and industrial play pushed Crewe further and further back.
In the end it was quality that won us the game, though best american online casino report that quality, which we have always said runs throughout our squad at this level, hasn't influenced enough games for us to be competing at the table's summit. We have now just nine games left in the season, 27 points on offer, yet remain 11 points off top and seven behind Wigan who have three games in hand. Our position in the playoffs is far from secured, with teams in the top ten all showing solid form and the two teams below us - Plymouth and Sheffield Wednesday - having enough games in hand to knock us out of the top six.
It's going to be an intense end to the season yet despite our good form, you can't help but feel Sunderland have to up the ante in terms of performance to secure a playoff spot, and do something quite miraculous to invade the top two.