Kevin Ball

Ball: Lots of positives to take

by Ashley Houghton

Coach happy with development squad's endeavour.

Sunderland’s development squad coach, Kevin Ball, praised his side’s character as the young Black Cats drew 1-1 with Aston Villa on Monday evening.

Severe traffic congestion meant Ball’s side didn’t arrive at Tamworth FC’s Lamb Ground until 35 minutes prior to kick-off yet they showed enough focus to merit the point they got from the game.

David Moberg Karlsson earned the development squad the point on the hour and Ball was pleased with the way the youngsters dealt with the difficult situation.

“It was a really difficult evening for us because the journey we had down was a nightmare for us,” Ball explained.

“The traffic congestion, which couldn’t be helped, meant we suffered a severe delay and we didn’t arrive until just over half an hour before we were meant to kick-off.

“As a result the first-half was always going to be difficult and I felt quite sorry for the lads because they couldn’t really express themselves in the way they would like to.

“Having said that, I thought we did really well – the funny thing was that we had the chances to probably go two or three up yet Joel Dixon has also had to make two or three great saves for us.”

Ball, whose side stay second in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League with the point, said the second-half performance gave him lots of positives to draw on ahead of their next home league game in two weeks against Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.

“We got the lads in at half-time and gave them a few ideas and they reacted really well,” he said.

“It was a credit to the lads that they got the control in the second-half and eventually we got the goal.

“Duncan Watmore, who I thought was excellent again, went on a great run and set up George Honeyman whose shot hit the post and young David [Moberg Karlsson] followed up and scored – fair play to him.

“It would have been special if we could have got that winner but the fact it was a different experience for the lads with the late arrival and the fact they remained so focussed was pleasing for me.”