KEITH Bertschin branded Sunderland’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool a “great advert for reserve team football” as the Black Cats hung on to extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
Reserve team coach Bertschin could easily have been downhearted after the second string threw away a 3-1 half-time lead and were desperately clinging on to parity at the final whistle.
But the former Sunderland striker preferred to concentrate on the quality of a thrilling, whole-hearted encounter despite first half goals from Adam Reed, Craig Lynch and Roarie Deacon failing to secure victory.
Bertschin told the Echo: “It was a great advert for reserve team football because it was aggressive, verging on dangerous. The referee had his hands full and things were happening that he probably missed more than he got.
“But there were two teams who were physically fit and strong.
“I really enjoyed it, even though we let our lead slip away.
“I would have been really disappointed if we’d lost the game, but the momentum was with Liverpool in the second half, as it was with us in the first half.”
Bertschin believes Sunderland’s youthful side will reap the rewards from such a physical encounter, with neither side shirking a challenge.
“Everyone had to stand up and be a man and maybe one or two walked off thinking it’s not as easy the higher up you go,” he added.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to play a game like that.
“It really identifies to the younger players what real football is all about.
“A lot of them will have learned a valuable lesson that there is no hiding place and if you’ve got weaknesses in a tough, top game, they’ll come out.
“If they’re basic weaknesses, like technique, then that’s fine. But what you can’t be is found wanting for courage, tackling and heading because it’s all too easy to spot.”