KEITH Bertschin praised the professionalism of Sunderland’s senior players for excellent performances in appalling weather conditions as the club’s second string ran out 7-0 winners over Scunthorpe Reserves yesterday.
A strong side, including Ji Dong-won, Craig Gardner, David Vaughan, David Meyler, James McClean, Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon had far too much for their League One opponents.
But Bertschin said the team could easily have shirked the challenge of playing in cold, overcast conditions, with near galeforce winds gusting across the pitch and, in the second half, cloud-bursts. “I thought they were excellent and I’d like to pay tribute to them because the conditions were truly awful,” said reserve-team coach Berschin.
“I’ve never seen a game called off for being too windy, but this game must have come close – you passed the ball one way and it blew straight back at you, you passed it the other way and it shot out of sight.
“We lost four balls, I think, during the game which just went up and sailing off.
“On top of that, it was bitterly cold and then in the second half the clouds opened and we had driving rain for a while.
“It was horrible conditions to play in, but they set the tone in the game, set a great example and I was delighted with that. It was a Reserves game in dreadful conditions behind closed doors, but they treated it with due respect.”
Bertschin was delighted, too, that the performances were rewarded with a stack of goals. He said: “Ryan Noble’s got a hat-trick in double-quick time and that’s what he’s all about – he’s an excellent finisher there’s no doubt about that, but it’s a question of working on all the other aspects of his game.
“James McClean looks more the part with each passing week and can’t be too far away now and you could see the difference in quality we had, in terms of David Vaughan’s superb passing and Craig Gardner always looking to take the ball on and open up the defence.
“Overall, it was a great display and it sets us up nicely going into December.”