TEENAGE defender Daniel Ballard accepts there is room for improvement in his game following a mixed performance against Chelsea U21s at the County Ground on Tuesday night.

Ballard impressed most with his ability to rise highest in the box from crosses delivered on the left wing in particular, and was rewarded with an eye-catching goal mid-way through the opening half.

The 19-year-old’s header came at a time when Town found themselves under extreme pressure from the young Blues, following Tino Anjorin’s early brace.

At the same time, though, the Arsenal loan signing was caught off guard by proven Premier League 2 goalscorer Charlie Brown just 12 minutes after Adam May levelled the contest at the start of the second half.

Ballard’s lapse in concentration allowed Blues’ teenage forward to comfortably re-establish the visiting side’s one-goal lead, which they held onto until full time.

Defeat has put Town on the back foot already in the Leasing.com Trophy. With only two group stage fixtures remaining – against Plymouth and Bristol Rovers – it’s likely Wellens’ men will need to win both fixtures in order to qualify for the competition’s knockout phase.

Ballard said: “We’re disappointed, I don’t think we played to the best of our ability – conceding three goals isn’t good enough.

“We know where we made mistakes, I think we could’ve done a lot better – that applies for me as well.

“I need to cut out a few mistakes, but that’s why I’m here to learn and I will learn from it.

“It was a bit of a relief (to score), and it swayed the game a bit. We got back into it in the second half, but it was another silly mistake for the final goal.

“Playing in the under 23s last year, I was strong in getting on the end of set-pieces. I think it will be different in League Two, though.”

Ballard was also quick to rubbish many fans’ opinion that the competition is redundant and carries no purpose.

Having played for Arsenal U21s in the competition last season, the teenager can claim to have played on both sides of the fence amid supporters’ criticism of the EFL in allowing academy teams to join the competition.

Ballard however said academy teams treat the tournament with huge respect.

He added: “At Arsenal, we valued this competition highly.

“Playing on the other side is slightly different, but I still regard it as a good competition - and I want to win every game.

“The competition is massive for U21 teams, they were the games we most looked forward to and the games with the most pressure.”