How a team bonding session helped Sunderland to first Premier League win of the season

Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford fumes at the loss of the opening goal to Dan Gosling at Bournemouth on Saturday. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford fumes at the loss of the opening goal to Dan Gosling at Bournemouth on Saturday. Picture by Frank Reid
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Jordan Pickford was bowled over by Sunderland’s first league win - with the young stopper producing a stunning performance to keep Bournemouth at bay.

Washington-born Pickford produced key saves to keep out Harry Arter, Joshua King and Jack Wilshere before a superb flying save late on to again deny King, helping Sunderland to victory.

The 22-year-old hailed the win as a “massive” result, achieved thanks to a spirited and resilient display.

Pickford revealed that the team had enjoyed a team bonding session at a bowling alley earlier in the week, with the spirit strong in the Black Cats camp.

“We needed that result, it is a massive result,” said the England Under-21 keeper.

“We had a good feeling all week that we would come here and get the result. It was all about working hard as a unit and a team.

“We haven’t been 100 per cent, we have been close to getting a result, but we showed real grit and determination to get a result and not get beat.

“We went bowling on Tuesday with the lads – it was a really good team bonding session.

“We were just playing four teams and the losing team had to pay.

“We got the highest score so I wasn’t bothered!

“Wahbi Khazri was the best on our team, he got the highest score. He was decent.

“It was a bit different, but even if you are top of the league or bottom, you must have a good team spirit. It helps when you are together as a team.

“Sheasy [John O’Shea] put it together. I’m not sure if it came from the gaffer or not.

“It was something we wanted to do as a team.”

Victor Anichebe cancelled out Dan Gosling’s opener for the Cherries before Jermain Defoe – who Pickford has in his fantasy football team –scored the winner from the spot.

“The manager has been really good. His main focus has been to get the result – however we got it,” added Pickford.

“He has been good all week, and working us really hard.

“I was happy with my own performance.

“There were a good few saves and it was nice to get the win.

“Now I just need to get the clean sheet to go with it! I will be buzzing then.

“I have JD in my fantasy team – he keeps scoring for me so I won’t be taking him out anytime soon!

“It helps me be sharper in training too, playing against him,” added Pickford, who will today meet up with the rest of the England Under-21 squad at St George’s Park ahead of two friendlies against Italy and France.

Sunderland’s task was made harder, though, after Steven Pienaar was shown his second yellow on the hour mark for a foul on Junior Stanislas.

Replays showed he got first contact on the ball, but his studs then made contact with the shin of the Cherries forward.

Pickford added: “We showed the grit and determination needed as a unit and that is how you get results.

“He was sorry. On another day, he might not have been sent off.

“Now our focus moves on to Hull and getting our first home win of the season.”