Kevin Ball

Ball pleased with win

by Stuart Vose

Under-21 coach on victory over Newcastle.

Kevin Ball felt his under-21 side produced a top-notch performance as they ran out 4-0 winners against Newcastle in a friendly on Wearside.

The development squad eased to a comfortable victory thanks to goals from Jordan Laidler (2), Adam Reed and Mikael Mandron.

The game was an ideal warm-up for the youngsters, who resume their Barclays U21 Premier League campaign at home to Aston Villa this Thursday.

“I think the most important thing was the fact that we played well,” Ball said afterwards.

It was important to have the game. There was a period of time when we didn’t have any fixtures so we just felt that if we could get some games in and it would help us with a league game coming up on Thursday.

“When I spoke to Peter [Beardsley] they were more than happy to put a game on which we were delighted about.

“To win the game was nice but I was more concerned, as I always am, about how we played.”

He added: “I thought we passed the ball really well and got bodies forward. It was one of those performances today where you sit back and think ‘that’s not far off an excellent performance’.

“There were some good goals, some good play and some good chances created.

“A special mention should go to [goalkeeper] Jordan Pickford - he made one or two good saves at important times. His handling at times was excellent with a couple of long range shots. He was very competent.”

Ball’s team had something of a different complexion with midfielders Connor Oliver and James Armstrong deployed as makeshift centre-backs to excellent effect.

“We’ve had a couple of injuries so it meant a couple of midfield players had the opportunity to go and play at the back,” Ball explained.

“I thought the pair of them acquitted themselves very well.  They were composed on the ball, their passing was good, their talking was good. Both of them had very good all-round performances.”