Kevin Ball

Ball delighted with youngsters' progress

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Development squad coach pleased with quality of football ahead of season opener.

Sunderland’s development squad coach, Kevin Ball, says he has been really pleased with the progress the under-21’s have made during their pre-season.

Ball watched on as his side completed their schedule with a 2-1 win over Harrogate Town on Wednesday evening.

And he has been pleased to see the quality of football on display from the youngsters.

“To end the pre-season with a win is nice<” Ball said. “In terms of Wednesday’s performance I thought we kept the ball really, really well and at times some of the football we played was excellent.

“My only criticism of the players would be that they need to turn all that good football into goals.

“We went one down in the game and got back to 2-1 and I thought the opportunity was there for us to go on and win it by more than that.”

Ball’s side host Bolton Wanderers in their opening Barclays U21 Premier League game on Monday and the former Sunderland captain hopes the young Black Cats can maintain their performance levels when the Trotters come to Wearside.

“We’ve had to defend well,” he added. “I just thought our play all over the pitch was excellent and there was some really good individual performances, they looked really fit.

“One of the nice things that the opportunities came from different players; wide players, centre forwards, midfield, even the defenders.

“The most important thing on Monday is that we see some good performances and hopefully on the back of that we’ll get the win.

The CNG Stadium was in fine condition for the visit of Sunderland and Ball was full of praise for the Conference North outfit.

“I’d like to congratulate Harrogate on a fantastic little set up they have here – I thought the surface was excellent and that helped us as well and it was a nice way to end pre-season,” he continued.

“We’ve ended on a good note tonight and I think we’ve got to be really pleased how pre-season went.”