Sick Ambrose pays tribute to Dale

DESPERATE Darren Ambrose was so determined to play in last night's testimonial for Dale Roberts he kept a sickness bug secret from Sir Bobby Robson, writes Derek Davis.

DESPERATE Darren Ambrose was so determined to play in last night's testimonial for Dale Roberts he kept a sickness bug secret from Sir Bobby Robson, writes Derek Davis.

The former Ipswich Town winger had been vomiting during the day and felt ill but kept quiet and played his part in an entertaining game won 2-1 by his old club at Portman Road.

Ambrose played for an hour before being replaced by new signing from Leeds United, James Milner.

Toon winger Ambrose said: "I was ill all day and didn't feel well at all but I really wanted to play so didn't tell anyone. I'm glad I played. I got a great reception and I was very excited to be back."


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A crowd of almost 25,000 paid fitting tribute to Roberts, who died of cancer last year, and were entertained by two attractive attacking teams.

Pablo Counago hit a fortuitous second-half winner after Laurent Robert had equalised Shefki Kuqi's opener.

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Kelvin Davis made a string of fine saves while Craig Bellamy hit a post as Newcastle looked good going forward but were shaky at the back.

Ambrose added: "It was the right turn-out for the right occasion, me Kieron (Dyer) and Titus (Bramble) got the right reception while Craig Bellamy got the reception he expected, being ex-Norwich."

"Ipswich were very good and they passed us off the pitch at times. You can tell they have had a few more games than us but if they carry that on into the season I can see them doing really well.

"They have beaten a top European side who were up for this game and one the manager wanted to win."

Ambrose rose through the Town youth team ranks with Darren Bent and believes his old mate has improved greatly.

He said: "Darren has come on really well and he was up against an international and Premiership defender in Olivier Bernard so he did well.

"He attacks players a lot more and is looking to beat players and looks a better player for it."

Blues boss Joe Royle was delighted with the result and performance.

He said: "It was a great game for a friendly. They have the same symptoms as us. They are terrific when they have the ball but sometimes not so good when they don't have the ball.

"I was pleased with Jason De Vos and Kevin Horlock, they have given us a stiffer spine and we looked tighter.

"The first goal would have graced any game. The game never slackened and it was end to end. Kelvin Davis made some super saves but in the end I was delighted to win. They have terrific players with pace."

Sir Bobby Robson declined to talk to the written press after the game.

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