Martin Smith stunner inspires young Black Cats to testimonial triumph

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
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A strong Sunderland XI just edged Blyth Spartans in a testimonal game for the long-serving Robbie Dale, who has completed 10 seasons at Croft Park on Saturday.

A crowd of 812 gave Dale a standing ovation when he was substituted near the end.

The only goal came on 43 minutes when Mikael Mandron found space down the left and rolled the ball to Martin Smith, whose first-time shot eluded Adam McHugh at the near post.

In the second half, Mandron again opened up the Blyth defence, but, when Charis Mavrias picked up the pass, his curling first time effort went just the wrong side of the upright.

Sunderland U21 coach Robbie Stockdale, whose side open their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign against Norwich at Eppleton CW next Sunday, told the club website: “It was a tough game – it was a really sticky pitch and sometimes it was difficult to pass the ball as well as we’d have liked.

“In the first half, we were a little bit off the pace, and then, after we spoke at half time, we were much improved in the second half.

“I think we should have by a few more goals if I’m honest, but it was a nice occasion and overall it was a good day for Robbie and a decent run-out for us.”

Sunderland U18s won 2-1 at Huddersfield in a friendly.