Kevin Ball

Ball: U21s' Reading clash was a highlight

by Stuart Vose

Coach looks back on one of his games of the season for the development squad.

Kevin Ball says a full-blooded late-season draw at Reading was one of the most enthralling games of the U21s’ 2013-14 campaign.

The development squad headed south in April, returning with a point following a 1-1 scoreline thanks to Mikael Mandron’s equaliser.

If there was a particular game where the team really stepped up to the plate, that was it

- Kevin Ball

And, looking back on the season, Ball says the “superb” game was an archetypal example for under-21 football and really brought the character within the group to the fore.

“It was a great game, a typical road trip,” he said. “We travelled for seven or eight hours, stopped in a hotel and trained on the pitch next door. The lads loved it and organised themselves.

“Reading were doing smashing at senior, U21 and U18 level and when the teams lined up in the tunnel, they were big and experienced and I thought, 'right lads, let's see what you've got in your locker'.

“If there was a particular game where the team really stepped up to the plate, that was it. I've never seen a group of lads do their jobs as well as they did that night.

“They were absolutely superb and it was one of the best games of the season. Myself and Robbie [Stockdale] both said 'that was a proper game'.

“We were really pushing the lads and they were brilliant. Having gone 1-0 down we got the goal we deserved and had other chances. Any first team at any time in that sort of match would have come away saying 'what a game'.

“It was how I think under-21 football should be – playing the game, which we did do, but competitive too. The players needed to be able to deal with that too and they were superb.”