Sunderland missed chance against Man United, says Ball

DEFEATED ... reserve team boss Kevin Ball
DEFEATED ... reserve team boss Kevin Ball

KEVIN BALL felt Sunderland’s stalemate with Manchester United was a missed opportunity after the Black Cats’ under-21s couldn’t make home advantage count.

Ball’s side dominated the opening 45 minutes, without managing a breakthrough, and then struggled to maintain that ascendancy after the break.

“I think a point was a fair result because neither team went for the jugular,” said Ball.

“We passed the ball very well, but I just wanted more from us in the final third. It was a game that needed someone to take it by the scruff of the neck and I’m not sure any of our forward-thinking players did that.

“The lads have been smashing in training. We haven’t really had a run of games, it’s all been stop-start. But I thought they had more left in the tank and if they’d shown that, they’d have got their just rewards.”

Substitute Ryan Noble almost snatched victory in the closing stages after forcing a smart save from United stopper Sam Johnstone with his first contribution.

Noble replaced Connor Wickham, who worked well with his back to goal, although Ball has challenged the £8million frontman to offer a threat in behind opposition defences.

“It was good for Connor because his hold-up play is the side of his game they’re working on,” added Ball. “I also think he needs to work on getting in behind a little bit.”