TEENAGER Duncan Watmore was delighted with his “dream” debut at the Stadium of Light yesterday as Sunderland swept into the fourth round of the FA Cup courtesy of a 3-1 win over Carlisle United.
Watmore and fellow Under-21 development squad team-mate El-Hadji Ba both made their first-team debuts as second-half subs, with Ba scoring and Watmore going close, only to be be denied by Greg Fleming’s fine save.
That stop, though, did not spoil the realisation of Watmore’s ambition this season of playing first-team football in the Premier League colours of Sunderland Football Club.
The 19-year-old, who was Sunderland’s first signing last summer when he joined from Conference North club Altrincham, said: “I was just delighted to get to play.
“It’s a dream to be out there on that pitch in that stadium and I loved every second of it, to be honest.
“I really enjoyed it and I’m glad we got the win.
“I could have scored, but the keeper made a good save.
“I took a return pass from Jozy Altidore and just went for the bottom corner, but the keeper has saved well and put it out for a corner – it’s a shame for me, but what can you do?”
Watmore has sparkled in Under-21 games for Kevin Ball’s high-flying Sunderland side this season with his pace and his direct approach and the home fans, well aware of his potential, gave him a great reception and warm backing.
“It was unbelievable hearing my name being chanted by the fans at the Stadium of Light,” the young attacker grinned.
“It was mental, and I’m so appreciative of the fans for that.
“Every kid dreams of playing football of this standard in their career and, to get that chance now, I’m over the moon.
“I’ll keep working hard to see where it goes.”
Watmore may have the talent to be a success in the game, but his feet remain very much on the ground and he was quick to praise those who have helped him develop this season.
“Kevin Ball and the rest of the staff have been great to me,” he said.
“They’ve helped me get bigger, quicker, fitter and the technical side of my game has improved so much with the Under-21s too.
“I just get the ball and run at people and Bally always says he doesn’t want to coach that out of me because that’s me and that’s why I’m on the pitch – it’s what I’m good at
“I enjoy beating people and I’ve just got to keep doing that, working hard and looking to do the right things for the coaching staff.
“Playing in a cup game was great for me too – it was very quick and you don’t have the time to dwell on the ball – but again, that’s something I can learn from.”