STEVE WATSON has highlighted the all-round positive nature of playing exhibition friendlies following York City’s 1-1 draw with League One side Sunderland.

It was the second pre-season fixture in 10 days against high-class North East opposition, sandwiched between Premier League outfit Newcastle United and Championship side Middlesbrough.

These are games the National League North Mistermen are not expected to win (though they did, quite impressively, against Newcastle) but give the club, players and fans something to really relish - the epitome of the axiomatic refrain that pre-season is about the game and not the result.

“We’re not going to play anything like that in our regular season,” said Watson.

“It’s great for the lads to match themselves up against these players. All the lads should be ambitious, certainly those who are starting their career.

“Playing against people like that tells them where they need to get to in fitness and sharpness, and obviously they’ll all improve for doing that.

“The games against Whitby and Notts County might give us a better yardstick as to where we are in our league but as far as these games are concerned - what a great experience for the lads.

“It’s hopefully a good chance for the club to get a good crowd and for people to see top-class players. They’ve seen some top-class Premier League players on Saturday and a they’ve seen a really good side tonight.”

The Black Cats took the lead through Dan Neil in a dominant first half before substitute Kurt Willoughby levelled for a revived City early in the second. Pete Jameson saved a penalty he gave away late on.

The only disappointment was young centre-back Josh King leaving the field with a gash to his leg after a stern challenge.