Kevin Ball

Ball pleased with progress

by Kate Smith

Coach wants squad to build on campaign opening.

Kevin Ball says his under-21 side haven't always got the results their performances have deserved so far this season.

The club's second string finished fifth in their league group, losing just three of their 12 games.

They will now face different opponents over the second phase of the reserve competition, which underwent a revamp last summer.

Ball's side ended the first half of the campaign with back-to-back wins and the former Sunderland captain has been pleased with the progress shown by his players.

“In general, things have been going well,” Ball told

“The players have worked hard on all aspects of their game and I think we've seen that as the season's progressed.

“There have been games where we've played really well and maybe not got the results we deserved.

“The game that sticks in my mind is away at Aston Villa [in November].

“We were brilliant on the night, football-wise and everything else about our game, but we lost 2-1.

“Their keeper was world class but we had all the right elements to our play.

“We played it out from the back, passed it well and created chances. We just need to take our opportunities when they come along.”