KEVIN BALL has challenged Sunderland’s youngsters to show some guts in front of goal after crashing out of the FA Youth Cup.
Sunderland were punished for their profligacy in the final third last night after Nottingham Forest recovered from going a goal down to triumph 2-1 and advance to the fourth round of the competition.
The Black Cats had dominated the opening 30 minutes, yet only had George Honeyman’s header to show for their efforts, with Ball’s side unable to claw their way back into the game after Forest took the lead early in the second half.
Assistant academy director Ball told the Echo: “When you look at the amount of chances we had both in the box and down the sides, we needed to have more quality.
“But when we did get ourselves in good positions, then you’re looking for your midfielders or centre-forward to finish them off.
“The price for becoming a forward player is you’ve got to be brave enough to miss.
“Some of ours play too nice and play to not miss. They’ve got to be brave enough to try to do it right.
“The one part of our game that is good is creating chances. What we’ve got to work on is making sure our players are confident enough to finish them.”
Ball admits Sunderland’s dressing room was disconsolate at the final whistle after crashing out at the third round stage for the second successive year. “The disappointment on the players’ faces was immense and I quite like that,” he said.
“I want them to hurt and understand that, to be a successful footballer, you cannot think things will just happen.
“You’ve got to make it happen all the time.
“We asked them what their thoughts were because we don’t just rant and rave and some of them were quite disappointed with their performances.
“It’s a cup competition, if you don’t score goals, you get knocked out, it’s as simple as that.
“Taking the goals out of it, I felt we were by far and away the better footballing side – we moved the ball well, we created a lot of chances.
“From our point to view to concede two goals is poor. They were disappointing goals to concede.
“But, by the same token, the people at the other end have the other responsibility, which is the harder one, of putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We created more than enough chances to win the game and at good times as well.
“If you take those, it’s a totally different outlook.”