Sunderland were a goal down after just four minutes after Josh Gordon flicked in George Dobsons free-kick but fought back and equalised in the 33rd minute.
Lee Cattermoles strike at the back post hit the post before coming back out and striking Saddlers keeper Liam Roberts and bouncing in.
The goal has initially been given to Cattermole, his sixth of the season, but it is likely it will go down as an own goal if the powers that be take another look.
Ross was pleased to see the experienced midfielder playing another key role and says they have encouraged him to make forward runs.
Sunderland went on to win the game, Will Grigg firing home to seal a 2-1 win and keep Sunderland third, now just two points off Barnsley in second with a game in hand.
Asked whether Cattermole was claiming it, Ross said: “I havent seen it again but I hear it may have taken a big deflection on the way in.
“He is on a really good goalscoring run so Im sure he will want to claim it. It is pleasing for him.
“We have encouraged him to make forward runs and get in the box and although that comes from a set piece he does it quite well and finds himself in good areas.”
Share Share Player Ratings & Report: Sunderland 2-1 Walsall – Grigg scorcher seals another vital 3 points! tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Sunderland AFC Match Recap Will Griggs superb finish rescued Sunderland as they recovered from an early set-back to beat Walsall 2-1 and pile pressure on Barnsley in the League One promotion race.
Griggs superb second-half finish and a Lee Cattermole half-volley allowed Jack Ross men to recover from Josh Gordons opener and win at the Stadium of Light.
A moment of sheer quality from the Northern Ireland international sealed the points in an otherwise scrappy second-half performance. The Mackems had battled well in the first after Gordons clever goal inside the first five minutes.
Crucially, promotion remains in Sunderlands hands they trail the Tykes by just two points having played a game less, the teams have nine and eight games left to get out of the third tier respectively.
Walsall took a shock lead from the first attack of the match. Gordons superb improvised volley flew past Jon McLaughlin into the far corner. His volleyed back-heel from a whipped, in-swinging George Dobson free-kick evaded everyone in red and white, a disastrous start.
The visitors won the free-kick after some comically bad defending from Tom Flanagan who lost the flight of the ball from a long goal-kick and clumsily brought down a Walsall attacker.
Sunderland did manage to bundle the ball into the Saddlers net in the 15th minute, but saw the effort waved off. Will Grigg tapped in from close range, after an excellent Grant Leadbitter free-kick, but the referee had already penalised Jack Baldwin, who was adjudged to have fouled in the process of winning the initial header.
By the 20 minute mark the Black Cats had finally settled and put together their first quality attacking move. Lewis Morgan dragged wide from the edge of the area after a snappy exchange of passes between Adam Matthews, Max Power and Aiden McGeady.
Moments later Morgan riffled another effort on goal, his powerful strike needed to be tipped over by Liam Roberts in the visitors goal. The Celtic loanee missed his best chance of the game just before the half-hour mark, this time dragging his shot wide from the penalty spot, after a clever McGeady cutback.
Walsall produced their best attack since the goal on the half-hour mark with Zeli Ismail going close twice. First forcing McLaughlin to parry away his low drive and then needing Luke ONien to hook away his mishit shot from close range.
Jack Ross men leveled minutes later, Cattermole thrashed a Leadbitter corner back across goal with the pace of the strike beating Roberts who let the ball ricochet off him in at the near post.
Grigg was next to test Roberts forcing the keeper to parry away his half-volley from another dangerous Leadbitter set-piece.
The Mackems instantly retook the ascendancy after the break, this time Leadbitter went close with his driven effort sailing just high and wide of the top corner.
Sunderland pressure continued in the early stages of the second-half, Power saw his header from a corner nestle on the roof of the net, just over.
As the half wore on the contest became much more even with both sides having plenty of possession, but lacking that killer final ball.
From nowhere Sunderland found their crucial second, a flick on from substitute Charlie Wyke, made space for Grigg who got the ball out of his feet before slotting beyond Roberts from 20 yards out.
The finish was a reminder of why Stewart Donald was willing to potentially break the transfer record in this division for the former Wigan marksman.
The hosts were relatively comfortable in the final 20 minutes, with Walsall reduced to speculative crosses as their only real threat on goal.
If a couple passes hadnt been slightly over-hit Sunderland could have added a third, but ultimately it didnt matter as they secured a vital win in League Ones nail-biting promotion race.
Luke ONien, 7/10: Made an important intervention when Sunderland were trailing and got forward with greater intent as the game wore on.
Lee Cattermole, 6/10: Brought Sunderland level delivering the all important equaliser, but looked sluggish protecting the back four.
Lewis Morgan, 7/10: Sunderlands most effective player in the first-half, caused Walsall all sorts of problems before fading and being replaced in the second period.
Aiden McGeady, 7/10: Had his fingerprints all over Sunderlands fight-back, with his usual mix of skill and awareness.