Sunderland leave it late to seal victory over Accrington Stanley - and tee up Premier League tie
An outstanding goal from substitute Aiden McGeady sealed Sunderland’s first win of the season.
A Jordan Clark penalty had got Accrington Stanley level after a good first half from the Black Cats, who took a deserved lead through striker Marc McNulty.
But McGeady’s quality told and his wonderful effort sent his side into the second round of the Carabao Cup.
A late goal from Charlie Wyke added gloss to the scoreline as the away side eventually ran out deserved 3-1 winners.
Ross had promised to use his squad to cope with a demanding month of fixtures, but despite making six changes he named a strong side and they began with promising attacking intent.
They forced a save from Dimitar Evtimov just a minute in, some good interplay allowing Lynden Gooch to cut in from the right and shoot on his left foot.
Accrington Stanley were under presure and Alim Ozturk went close when Jordan Willis nodded down a corner, the Turk defending seeing a firm strike deflected wide of the post.
Ross had gone with the 4-4-2 shape that he had used in the closing stages of the Ipswich draw, with Gooch and Maguire taking up very advanced positions.
It made for an open encounter, Sunderland creating chances but leaving plenty of space for Accrington to break.
They went close when Sam Finley fizzed an effort wide of a scrambling Lee Burge, but a neat move game Sunderland the lead a quarter of an hour in.
Max Power played a good early ball into Chris Maguire, whose superb first-touch pass took both centre-backs out of the equation. Marc McNulty had peeled into the space behind and confidently beat Evtimov.
Power was impressing in midfield and almost made it two after another good move saw the ball break to him on the edge of the area, his effort flashing wide of the post.
Sunderland were dominant, but some slack passing occasionally gave the home side a chance and they were immensely unfortunate that Colby Bishop missed a golden chance to equalisr. Courtney Baker-Richardson broke well into the flank and Burge came out to close too quickly, the striker knocking the ball past him. Bishop looked certain to score but stood on the ball and allowed the defence to recover.
Sunderland twice went close to extending their lead before the break, with Will Grgg nearly turning a couple of half chances into goals.
He almost steered a floated Power cross into the far corner, before forcing a clever save from Evtimov as he instinctively backheeled a low Maguire cross towards goal.
The second half began a far scrappier affair than the first, with both sides struggling to hold onto possession for a significant period.
Accrington had the first real sight of goal when Jordan Clark headed comfortably wide from a good position inside the box.
Sunderland were struggling to build pressure as they had done in the first half, and they were caught out on the hour when Jordan Clark raced clear to meet a long ball over the top. Conor McLaughlin brought him down and Bishop dispatched the penalty straight down the middle of the goal.
Ross responded by throwing on Aiden McGeady soon after, and with 15 minutes to go Gooch went close as his effort was deflected into the side netting.
Within moments they smashed the crossbar, McNulty gathering a through ball from McGeady and going inches away from putting his side back in the lead.
The Irishman looked determined to make a difference and it was a moment of exceptional individual skill that put the Black Cats ahead.
Accrington played an innocous pass into the midfield area, but McGeady was alert to the opportunity and stole it, driving forward with intent. He flew past the opposition defence and thumped an emphatic finish into the far corner.
They made it three in the final stages of the game as Charlie Wyke, making his first appearance of the season, turned home a good cross from the lively McNulty.
He almost made it four moments later, drawing a save from Evtimov as he gathered Gooch’s pass and took aim from close range.
Sunderland saw out five minutes of stoppage time to land a much-needed win and leave Ross with plenty to hink about ahead of the weekend.
Power had been excellent in midfield, while Alim Ozturk and Jordan Willis were dominant at the back.
McNulty’s contributions boosted his growing reputation on Wearside.
Sunderland XI: Burge; O’Nien, Willis, Ozturk, McLaughlin; Gooch, Power (Dobson, 86), Leadbitter, Maguire (Wyke, 77); Grigg (McGeady, 69), McNulty
Subs: McLaughlin, Flanagan, Baldwin, Embleton
Accrington Stanley XI: Evtimov; Johnson, Sykes, Hughes, Barclay (Carvalho, 90), Clark, Finley, McConville, Maguire, Bishop, Baker-Richardson (Pritchard, 78)
Subs: Bursik, Edwards, Kaba Sherif, Francis-Angol, Conneely
Bookings: Maguire, 50 Maguire, 53 Barclay, 58
Attendance: 2, 343 (964 away)