KEVIN Ball praised his players for working all the way to the final whistle against Spennymoor last night, to earn the reward of a late 1-0 win at the Brewery Field.
And the Reserve team coach singled out match-winner Alex Gorrin for particular praise after the young central midfielder’s 88th-minute effort from 18 yards out saw the Black Cats home after something of a second-half battering.
Ball told the Gazette: “I’m delighted for Alex because I don’t think we have a more enthusiastic player to call on.
“Sometimes we have to hold him back a bit because he’s so keen, and that goal will have been great for him.
“Having said that, I thought there were a lot of decent performances from us in what was a really testing game.
“Each match in pre-season has asked something different of the players, and against a very strong Spennymoor side, the players had to stand up to the physical challenge.
“It wasn’t a game full of bad challenges in any way, shape or form, but Spennymoor have plenty of big, powerful lads and you have to earn your right to play against them.”
Ball acknowledged the efforts of the half-dozen young players involved who only returned from South Korea at the start of the week.
“They have just come back from a long trip, so they could have been forgiven if they weren’t as fresh as they might have been, but I saw no signs of that,” he said. “They all showed a great attitude.
“In the second half, we brought on a lot of substitutes and some young lads, which made it even more testing for us.
“But we hung on and showed the right sort of commitment and spirit, and we got our reward at the death with a well-taken goal.”
Newly-appointed development team coach Ball is pleased with the way pre-season is going for the second-string.
He said: “To be honest, the result isn’t the most important thing, although I’m delighted we got the win.
“It’s more about fitness and conditioning at this stage, and from that point of view it was an excellent workout.”