IT is not often you see a professional footballer honing his skills in the local park with his dad.
However, if anyone has been passing through the Millfield area of Sunderland recently then the sight of Ryan Noble getting on the end of his dad’s crosses will be a familiar one.
And that extra work paid off on Saturday when the Black Cats loan star, right, soared to head home the winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Leyton Orient.
Evan Horwood was the supply line this time and not dad, Robert and Noble admits they have turned a few heads back home in Sunderland.
“During the past four or five weeks I haven’t been scoring, so I’ve been doing some extra finishing work where I live,” revealed the 20-year-old striker who took his tally for the club to two in eight games.
“I needed to do something because I’ve not scored.
“I’ve got a net and there’s a goal in the back field where I live in Millfield.
“My dad’s been swinging balls in and I’ve been putting them away.
“They’ve been going in as well, and on Saturday I found my touch for Hartlepool to score.
“My dad (Robert) used to play as a young lad at Ipswich so he knows what he is doing!
“I’ve had a few strange looks, people asking ‘what are you doing, you play for Sunderland man’.
“But I’ve told them I’ve been going through a bit of a bad patch and need to start scoring somewhere!”
Noble’s goal arrived 17 minutes from time when he leapt 12 yards out to glance an inch-perfect header into the bottom corner.
The victory was a first on home turf since the middle of February, and the match-winner was thrilled with the outcome.
“It was vital we won. We have played okay and not got results, but on Saturday we got some reward for keeping going,” he went on.
“It was a bit of a battle, the performance wasn’t as good as the past few weeks in fact, but sometimes you don’t play well and win games – and so it proved.”
And, of his goal, he reflected: “The ball came in from the left and I thought it was around the penalty spot, so I made movement to the ball, met it and it flew in.
“I’ve had a few chances here and there last few games, but thankfully, I took it this time.
“I think there was a bit of relief coming out when it went in as well.
“I’m not known for my headers but I knew as soon as I got on the end of this one it was going in.
“I’ve got to thank Evan, though, because it was a great ball and I’ll always back myself to get on the end of things when they’re put into the box like that.”
Tony Sweeney had put Pools ahead before Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s equaliser before half-time.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Horwood, Hartley, Baldwin, Austin, Holden (James 60), Liddle, Murray (Poole 61), Sweeney, Noble, Monkhouse. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Humphreys, Richards. Goals: Sweeney 23, Noble 73.
Leyton Orient: Jones, Ben Youssef, Chorley, Forbes, McSweeney, Jimmy Smith (Mooney 87), Spring, Reed, Cox (Porter 76), Lisbie, Campbell-Ryce. Subs Not Used: Andrew, Cestor, Taiwo. Booked: Cox. Goals: Campbell-Ryce 34.
Att: 4,502 Ref: Steven Rushton (Staffordshire).