Jones look­ing to fu­ture for in­spi­ra­tion at Cats matches

Sunday Sun - - Football - Stuart Rayner

FOR most Sun­der­land fans, last month’s 1-0 de­feat to Not­ting­ham For­est is a game they will want to for­get.

Hav­ing out­played the Tricky Trees for 86 min­utes, they then con­ceded a sucker-punch goal, in­evitably scored by for­mer Black Cat Daryl Mur­phy.

It was a mis­er­able night for a club who just can­not catch a break at the Sta­dium of Light, where they have not won since De­cem­ber in any com­pe­ti­tion.

But for Billy Jones, it was a re­minder of what is pos­si­ble if Sun­der­land can only break the se­quence. In the Cham­pi­onship rel­e­ga­tion zone, they need to do it sooner rather than later and with three of their four games on home soil, it may as well be Oc­to­ber.

“We ob­vi­ously want to get back to win­ning ways there to turn it back into a fortress be­cause it’s a ground which when it’s full, is very in­tim­i­dat­ing for op­po­si­tion teams,” says Jones. “When you’re per­form­ing well, the fans are right be­hind you and they’ve shown that.

“I re­mem­ber the Not­ting­ham For­est game where it was dis­ap­point­ing that we lost the game but I think the fans re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated the ef­fort that had gone in from the boys.

“The gaffer’s al­ways spo­ken about that. If you work hard, show your com­mit­ment and show you’re try­ing to do the right, pos­i­tive things in the right ar­eas, they’ll back you all the way.

“I think that was very ev­i­dent in that For­est game where even though it was a very dis­ap­point­ing re­sult, they still ap­pre­ci­ated the ef­fort that had gone in.

“We have to show that ev­ery week by be­ing con­sis­tent and hope­fully the re­sults will come. It would be great to get off this bad los­ing streak at home and turn it into a bit of a fortress. We just have to know that once we get that first win, we can get two, three, four on the bounce at home. “It’s just as the gaffer says, try­ing to en­joy be­ing at home, try not to feel the pres­sure, try to play with free­dom and the fans will ap­pre­ci­ate it if you’re try­ing to do that. “They want to see en­ter­tain­ing foot­ball in the fi­nal third and we want to make sure we erad­i­cate the sim­ple mis­takes be­cause clean sheets are go­ing to be mas­sive for us as well. We’re yet to achieve one (in the league this sea­son) and we want to get that as well. If you get that, you win games.”

Re­con­nect­ing with their sup­port­ers is im­por­tant for the Black Cats. Al­though they would be happy if the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble was de­cided on gates rather than foot­ball – they are third on the first mea­sure, one­from-bot­tom on the other – crowds are de­clin­ing and an av­er­age at­ten­dance of 28,438 leaves around 20,000 un­filled seats.

Jones has been in­volved in the lat­est off-field mea­sure to try to ad­dress that, vis­it­ing Mars­den Pri­mary School in Whit­burn to launch the club’s “Fan Fest” – a free open train­ing ses­sion-cum-half-term fam­ily fund day on Oc­to­ber 23.

Jones sees the im­por­tance keep­ing sup­port­ers on­side.

“To be hon­est, it’s mas­sive,” he says. “I’m not on so­cial me­dia so I of

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