Kevin Ball and Robbie Stockdale

Ball on friendly win

by Ashley Houghton

Coach sizes up U21s' final game of 2012-13.

Sunderland development squad coach Kevin Ball expressed his pleasure at being able to contribute to the celebrations at Consett AFC ahead of the Steelmens' departure from Belle Vue Park, their home of 63 years, to a new ground next season.

Ball took his under-21 side to Consett on Wednesday evening for a friendly clash to mirror the first game ever played at the ground between Sunderland Reserves and Consett in August 1950.

Tom Robson bagged a treble in the commemorative match whilst Ryan Noble also scored for the Black Cats as they ran out 4-1 winners.

And Ball was pleased to mark the special occasion for the Steelmen, another local side Sunderland AFC has strong connections with.

“It’s lovely to support a club like Consett with the history they’ve got and obviously the connections we have with them,” Ball said.

“We hope that in the future when they get the new ground we can get the opportunity to come and help them out, and perhaps open it for them.

“For me it was all about attitude last night and I said that to the players before the game.

“I quite like games like this; you do quote them as being a no win situation, and that’s spot-on, because we are expected to beat them and play better, rightly so as well.”

Ball was all smiles at the final whistle, though he was disappointed it took four second-half goals to win the game as the Black Cats trailed 1-0 at half-time.

And he said his different half-time team-talk obviously worked in improving his lads’ attitude in the second period.

“What I want from them is the right attitude,” he explained.

“Did I get that first-half? A little bit. I just thought one or two of them were holding back a little bit, that’s their prerogative but the only trouble is they are going to get judged on their performance like that.

“I thought my team-talk was a bit weird if I’m honest with you, I started telling them how great they were and what a fantastic first-half performance they’d put in and they were absolutely magnificent to a man and the football was quality and the fans would be enjoying it.

“And then I finished off by saying that if I’d been on the beer all day that’s what I’d be telling them but obviously I hadn’t been on the beer – I hadn’t even had a cup of tea by then.”

And, after Ball’s team talk, he got the desired reaction, spurred on by the introduction of Robson, Liam Agnew and Tom Beadling, the under-21’s breezed through a comfortable second-half.

“To give them credit, second-half I thought they played very, very well and they took on board what we said.

“I thought young Tom Robson was smashing and I just thought, in tempo terms, they had a lot more tempo about them and the attitude was right.

“One or two I spoke to first-half I felt were playing very within themselves, I thought came to the fore second-half.

“For example, I thought Alex [Gorrin] was poor first-half but I thought he did well in the second.”