Kevin Ball

Ball on narrow defeat

by Ashley Houghton

Youngsters put in good performance in Germany.

Kevin Ball was delighted with the quality of play in Sunderland’s development squad as the young Black Cats narrowly lost out to Borussia Monchengladbach’s under-23 side on Tuesday.

Ball watched on as Duncan Watmore continued his pre-season scoring run with the opener before a quick equaliser and 85th-minute winner gave the hosts the victory.

And, despite the defeat against their older counterparts, Ball was pleased with how his players applied themselves in Germany.

“It was a good exercise for the lads,” Ball said. “We left the airport and travelled to Germany to play Monchengladbach who are a fantastic Bundesliga team.

“I was delighted with our performance; there was lots of nice interplay between the midfield and the strikers and I was pleased with how the lads coped with the physical challenge of playing against older players.

“We went one up when Craig Lynch, who had a fantastic game, crossed for Duncan to finish and it was a good start.

“It was a shame we conceded quite soon afterwards from some poor defending but overall I thought our play, and the way we played out from the back, was very good.”

Ball’s side travel back to Holland to face RKSV Leonidas of the Dutch third tier on Saturday before they return home for their final friendly against Harrogate next Wednesday.

And Ball, who made 388 first team appearances for the Black Cats, says the experience in Germany has created a feel-good factor amongst the group.

“There was a real buzz in training this morning,” he added. “All the lads were talking about the game in training which is really good.

“Before we went out to play the game on the outside pitch the lads got to have a look around the ground and get changed inside the first-team changing room.

“Overall, I thought it was a really good pre-season game and I was pleased with our game; we deserved the draw but it wasn’t to be and I’m looking forward to going again on Saturday.”