Ball targets starting spot after derby strike

Fleetwood Town's David Ball
Fleetwood Town's David Ball
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Fleetwood’s derby day hero is targeting a return to the starting 11 and the top goalscorer’s slot, having shocked Preston North End with a late leveller.

David Ball’s 85th-minute stunner to seal Sunday’s 1-1 Highbury draw was undoubtedly a candidate for goal of the weekend, a neat touch to shrug off his man and an audacious looped finish.

Former Manchester City youngster Ball admits it’s been a frustrating month, having lost his starting place, but he now wants to kick on and is targeting a maximum return from the Easter weekend, which sees Friday’s visit to Gillingham followed by a Monday home clash with rock-bottom Yeovil.

Ball said: “I’ve had a frustrating time, playing a bit part in the last five games or so. I know I can play in a team week in, week out. I’ve just got to prove that. Fingers crossed that’s got me back in the side.”

Ball believes Fleetwood can win their next two fixtures, and with Graham Alexander’s men still only three points off the play-offs, the striker feels the opportunity is there to keep their season very much alive.

He said: “We’re capable of getting six points over Easter. I’m not saying it will be easy but we’ve got a really good chance. If we can win a few games, have a few things go for us, we can end the season on a high.” Ball had only been on the pitch for a few minutes when he struck. And he revealed the strike was one straight off the training ground.

He said: “You’re on the bench thinking you can come on and change a game in a certain way. Chris Maxwell will tell you I try that every day in training.

Luckily on this occasion it’s gone into the top corner.” Ashley Hunter was the man who got the move going and Ball revealed that the teenager, a recent capture from non-league Ilkeston, had been cheeky enough to claim a credit.

“Ash says it’s an assist,” the scorer said. “I’ve turned the man, seen the keeper off the line. You’ve got to try those things occasionally in football. Sometimes it pays off.

“It was an amazing feeling, hearing that reaction. I love playing for Fleetwood.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here. To score against Preston, it’s one of those moments.”

Hunter was one of a trio of teenagers who turned on the style for Town after the break.

And Ball knows Town have some fantastic young talent at their disposal.

He said: “The young lads should be fearless. We tell them every day just to do what they do best. We’re here to give them a little bit of experience and help along the way.

“I’m sure the management do that as well.

“The way they’ve performed is exciting for Fleetwood Town and for the future.

“With the training ground and the young players coming through, the club’s going in a direction that suits a club like Fleetwood.

“It’s brilliant to see that and be a part of it.”

Not that the rest of the side are short on talent, or the confidence to continue to move forward.

“There’s loads of belief in that dressing room,” said Ball.

“It goes through everyone. It plays a big part in a major derby like that against a side tipped for promotion.

“For us to come back and get a point, I’m really happy.”