Kevin Ball glasses

Ball pleased with winning start

by Ashley Houghton

Coach delighted with Bolton win.

Coach Kevin Ball was delighted to open the Barclays U21 Premier League campaign with a victory against Bolton Wanderers on Monday.

Ball watched on as Jordan Laidler’s goal earned the development squad a 1-0 victory at the Academy of Light.

And Ball was quick to give credit to his players for picking up the win, plus a clean sheet to get their season off to a good start.

“It’s nice to have a win in the first game,” Ball said. “I don’t think we played as well as we did in pre-season but I think you have to give the lads a pat on the back because they’ve come through it and won the game.

“I felt we were always in control of the game but it just seemed that we never got our passing game going. As the game wore on I still felt we created more than enough chances.

“If Bolton were going to score it was probably going to be via a set play or something like that.”

Laidler’s strike didn’t come until the 75th minute despite large spells of dominance for Sunderland.

And Ball is keen for his players to be ruthless as they look to build on their good start with a win at Leicester City on Monday.

“It was nice to see but you want to see them finish off more of their chances, their keeper made some good saves but I think we’ve got to turn round to our lads and say 'you’ve got to start finishing off those chances'.

“It’s been a really good pre-season; the players have worked really hard, so it was nice for them [to win].

“Winning will breed some confidence into all of them.”

Meanwhile Ball has cited player performance and the method in which they win games as the most important contributors to success.

“The one thing I’ve always said since I’ve been in the Academy is that the winning isn’t important but the process of trying to win is,” he explained.

“We stick to our philosophy in trying to win and if we changed it and tried to play for a draw and not to get beaten then I wouldn’t be happy with that.”