IT may well have been a friendly, but Tony Mowbray told his players to be relentless ahead of their game against San Antonio as Sunderland continued their unbeaten start to pre-season.

Ahead of the game, which took place in the early hours of Sunday morning UK time, Mowbray met and took time to speak to many of the Sunderland fans who were in attendance at Toyota Field.

He then told his players to show those supporters - with the majority based in the United States and taking advantage of a rare opportunity to watch Sunderland in the flesh - "how much we care about the jersey".

Mowbray was pleased with the outcome as his side ran out 3-1 winners over San Antonio, with Chris Rigg and Hemir on target in the first half and Jewison Bennette sealing the win in stoppage time.

The win capped off an enjoyable evening for Mowbray, his players and the fans.

"It's been amazing," said the head coach.

"Full stadium, lots of noise, fireworks going off behind the goals, the national anthem was amazing. It was quite the spectacle and great for our young players to play in the atmosphere of a proper game.

"Sometimes pre-season games, it can be a case of getting through it and it's difficult to get to the level but the crowd was brilliant tonight, there was a lot of red and white shirts.

"A lot of people I talked to who are living over here, come with their strips on and their family stories of why they're here and they've come a long way to be here.

"So as I said to the lads before the game, it is a pre-season friendly but I want to put some effort in. We want to win football matches, let's try and be relentless in our quest to do that. Some people have travelled a long way so you need to show them how much we care about the jersey.

"I thought we worked hard against a big strong physical team and ultimately the quality that we possess managed to win the game for us."


What also pleased Mowbray was the fact so many of his players managed to get match minutes under their belt.

He said: "We changed everybody at half time so every outfield player got 45 minutes. Behind you now they're running as well as doing the 45 minutes.

"As I watch them I think I see fatigue. They've been training really hard in the heat. It comes out a bit on a matchday which is why we thought 45 each (was right), and then to get the balance in the 45 minutes - put enough experienced players on the pitch along with some really young lads.

"We were playing against a big physical team, high pressing team, they're the highest pressing team in their league with the most shots. To win 3-1 was good and to make all those changes at half-time was good, but we understand they're playing fatigued.

"We don't have to win games at this stage, we have to be ready in August. We still have three weeks of preparation.

"They're training and working hard and games are part of the preparation, then we'll taper it down in the last week to ensure they're ready."