Sunderland boss reflects on THAT Josh Maja goal and missed opportunity for hat-trick

Josh Maja celebrates his 12th goal of the season.
Josh Maja celebrates his 12th goal of the season.

Jack Ross was full of praise for Josh Maja after he scored a stunning goal in the 4-2 win over Barnsley but admitted the 19-year-old will have been disappointed not to take home the match ball.

Sunderland stormed into a 3-0 lead at a rain-lashed Stadium of Light last night, with Maja scoring the pick of the bunch, taking Adam Matthews' pass in his stride, turning before curling his effort past Barnsley keeper Adam Davies from the edge of the penalty area.

It was Maja's 12th of the season and 11th in League One but he missed two glorious chances with his head in the first half and could easily have been celebrating his first hat-trick.

The 19-year-old was subbed after less than an hour, he headed straight down the tunnel with a shoulder complaint but Ross isn't worried, goalscoring sub Luke O'Nien replaced Maja.

Ross said: "I was going to make the change anyway, he has had a couple of knocks to his shoulder recently but I don't think it is anything too serious.

"At the time I thought the goal was really good and the staff have watched it again said it was really, really good.

"He will be disappointed as he could have had a hat-trick in the opening period, two headers he will probably think he should score.

"But the goal is him in a nutshell, that type of finish.

"Footwork is what he does on a daily basis, at 19 he's is so well regarded in the game, he has a natural ability to move the ball and finish it in that manner."

Ross is also pleased to see other Sunderland players continue to chip in with the goals, Aiden McGeady scored his fifth in six games from the penalty spot, Lynden Gooch produced his second in two games before O'Nien's late goal to seal the win.

Ross added: "We spoke earlier in the season about the responsibility on his [Maja's] shoulders but the contribution of goals from all over the pitch has been really good.

"Aiden's contribution has been terrific, Lynden's goals and assists fantastic and when you add Luke O'Nien and others.

"I would expect them to continue to make a contribution for the rest of the season."