Kevin Ball

Ball on Fulham draw

by Stuart Vose

Coach reviews U21 stalemate on Wearside.

U21 coach Kevin Ball saw his side resume their campaign after the Christmas break with a hard-fought draw against Fulham.

Sunderland established an early one-goal lead through George Honeyman only to be pegged back from the penalty spot.

A defensive error then resulted in Fulham taking the lead as Wade Joyce’s backpass was intercepted and converted.

However, Sunderland responded well and earned a point when Jordan Laidler struck late on.

“Game-wise I think they had more controlled possession than us but we scored two better goals,” Ball said afterwards.

“The first was well-worked but then we conceded a penalty, and you think ‘did we really need to?’

“For the second goal, we encourage players to play the ball out from the back and thus we have to take responsibility for that, though the players have to execute the skill themselves.

“Wade reacted well to get back on the line but the wind got hold of the ball and it’s ended up in the back of the net.”

He continued: “We changed things around, Nathan [Thomas] came on and worked very hard and we got our just rewards in the end.

“It was nice to see Jordan score – he smashed the ball home with a lot of confidence.

“Individually there were two or three good performances. David Ferguson did well and I thought Mikael Mandron was outstanding up front.

“He held the ball up, was a threat to them all the time and as he matures and gets stronger he’ll be even better.

“We’ve got a lot to work on, but we have to give the team credit because they didn’t allow themselves to be beaten.”