Kevin Ball

Ball reflects on first defeat

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Coach looks back on harsh evening for the youngsters.

Sunderland development squad coach Kevin Ball felt Tuesday evening’s 5-2 defeat at Liverpool was a harsh reflection on his players’ performance.

Ball’s side led 2-0 at Anfield before Liverpool’s £6.5m summer signing Luis Alberto notched a second-half hat-trick.

And Ball felt his side were more than a match for their Liverpool counterparts who named six first-team players.

“Did Liverpool deserve to win the game 5-2? Not from my point of view,” Ball explained. “I think the score line flattered them – in fact they probably looked at us and thought that we were better than what they originally thought.

“That’s a complement to our players and how well they’ve done against a good team with a mix of international players who Liverpool have spent a lot of money on.

“The silly thing was, though, that even at 3-2 and 4-2 I thought that we were well within our grasp to go and get back in the game – we had opportunities – especially at 3-2 and if we’d have got one of them back then maybe the momentum would have swung back our way again.

“They stuck to our philosophy and, within reason, stuck to the game-plan - there were some good individual performances tonight and, though we’re disappointed with the result and the fact it’s our first loss, I think it’s something we can learn a lot from.”

It looked as if it was going to be the perfect first-half for Ball’s side when David Moberg Karlsson notched in the 41st minute to double the visitors’ advantage.

However, Liverpool striker Jack Dunn scored with all-but the last kick of the half to give the Reds hope.

And Ball felt the goal was a huge turning point against his side.

“I thought we deserved to go 2-0 up – we scored two good goals,” the former Black Cats captain added. “I thought we played very well in the first-half but to concede the goal just before half-time was disappointing.

“It was something we spoke about with the players and something the players need to be aware of.

“From the point of view of how Liverpool wanted to do things it came to fruition from the fact that we didn’t do the job that we needed to do.

“That goal before half-time means a little bit of momentum swings in their way and they come out in the second-half with their tails up and they go for the jugular, so to speak, whereas if they go in at 2-0 it might have muted them a little bit.

“Fair play to them, though, they played with good tempo and what they did have was pace in abundance on the counter attack.”