The Under 14 Central and the Under 15 North went across to Holland over Easter, read all about their success with these reports.
Under 15 North on Tour
Easter 2017 saw the U15s North travel to Almere for the Holland Cup 2017. Leaving on Friday evening from Nicky Bs we travelled by coach to Holland with Blue Star U15s from Blackburn. After a long 13 hour trip we arrived at Centre Parks Eemhof rather earlier than expected at 05:30.
We were playing in the U15s A seam category so we knew beforehand we would be playing some very good teams from across Europe. We were drawn in pool 4 for Saturday's preliminary mini leagues with the top three in each league contesting the main Holland Cup on Sunday with remakning teams competing in the Challenge Cup.
Saturday saw us play against teams from France, Holland and Northern Ireland.
Game 1 STACY 2-0 US Bandol (France)
A good start from the lads out playing the french side with some nice football with Ryan Orde scoring both goals.
Game 2 STACY 2-2 Sporting Almere (Holland)
A tougher game against a good Dutch side, however the boys dominated for long periods. Ryan Orde scoring to put us in front then a good break saw Almere equalise. Some more pressure from the Dutch side saw a good save from James Lawrence rebound to a Dutch striker who's shot was bravely blocked by Dan Banerjee only for the ref to judge Dan handled the ball. The penalty was calm slotted home putting Almere in front. The lads continued to press and were awarded with a well deserved equaliser from Max Hodgson who slotted home a cool finish.
Game 3 STACY 1-0 vv ONA (Holland)
Another Dutch opponent with the lads now warming up and playing some fantastic football with Chris Rowe pulling the strings in midfield. Another goal from Ryan Orde put us in front and we continued to dominate creating a number of chances just failing to convert. Our defence remained strong and we came away with another well deserved win.
Game 4 STACY 0-1 Dungannon Utd (Northern Ireland)
Having played continental opposition we came up against a strong and physical side from Northern Ireland. It was clear that the day before travelling was catching up with the boys and we were comfortably beaten by Dungannon who topped the group.
Saturday finished with Dungannon unbeaten at the top of our League, STACY in second and Sporting Almere in 3rd all going through to the main Holland Cup on Sunday.
Sunday saw us up against teams from Germany & Denmark in our mini Leage.
Game 1 STACY 0-0 TSV Weisstal (Germany)
A close game against very good German opponents with both sides cancelling each other out with very few chances created and a draw being a fair result.
Game 2 STACY 2-0 Ledoje-Smorum Fodbold (Denmark)
Our second game pitched us against Danish opposition who were unbeaten in the tournament. Following the draw in the first match the lads knew a win was required to stand any chance of qualifying for the semi finals. The boys started at a furious tempo closing down the opposition and moving the ball across the park quickly and accurately. Joe Williams received the ball in the box turned the defender and was brought down for a penalty which was slotted home by Ryan Orde. The boys continued to press and got a well deserved 2nd with Max Hodgson slotting home cooly. The boys dealt with some late pressure from the Danes to secure the win.
Now we had to wait on the final group result with TSV Weisstal needing to beat Ledoje-Smorum by more than 2-0 to progress to the semis at our expense. We all watched on from the sidelines with the Germans dominating possession. The Germans scored in the first half and looked like they would win easily. However the Danes fought back resolutely with the German side becoming more and more frustrated as they failed to convert their chances. The final whistle blew meaning we were in the semi finals.
Semi Final STACY 2-0 Silkborg IF (DENMARK)
The semi saw us up against Danish opposition again, however this time it was the Academy side of Danish top flight club Silkborg previous winners of the Inter Toto Cup!. Sam Mardle U18s Saints Head Coach gave the team talk and fired the boys up. As expected the Danes were technically excellent however our boys played some unbelievable football closing down and putting the Danes under pressure. A slick move out from the back saw Sam Mistry interchange passes with Chris Rowe with Sam then playing a one two with Ryan Orde before slotting Max Hodgson through on the right. Max drove forward and unleashed an unstoppable shot from outside the area into the top opposite corner, one of the goals of the tournament. 1-0 at half time. The lads started the second half on the front foot with some tireless running and closing down. The Danes broke quickly and a swift counter down the left saw their striker narrowly firing over from just inside the box. St Albans began to gain momentum again after a good move down the right by Joe Williams, Ryan Orde received the ball on the edge of the box and fired in from 20 yards with the goalkeeper not even moving. The game ended 2-0 and we were through to the final with the Silkborg coach saying he had never seen a team from England play such good football praise indeed for the boys.
Final STACY 0-0 WV-HEDW (4-5 Penalties)
The final saw us up against local Dutch opposition. The match was a tense affair with both teams looking fatigued due to playing a number of games on the massive 4g pitch previously. St Albans put together a slick move with a clearence falling to Joe Williams whos first time shot went narrowly wide, both teams continued to work hard cancelling each other out with some resolute defending, 0-0 at half time. The second half took its toll on both teams especially ourselves with a number of the boys carrying knocks, one last chance saw Joe Williams wriggle free in the box and appeared to be brought down, after what seemed like an age the ref waived play on and the final whistle blew with scores level and now the dreaded penalty shot out. The boys converted four out of five pens with one well saved by the keeper, however the Dutch converted all theirs meaning St Albans finished runners up.
This was an unbelieveable achievement for the boys especially as we were missing a recognised striker and Goalkeeper with Max Hodgson, Ryan Orde and James Lawrence (GK) filling the roles, however the tour was about much more than the football with every single team member playing their part both on and off the pitch. The lads were a credit to themselves, their parents and the club.
A special thank you goes out to our coaches Sam Mardle and Brad Bennett and also Romi Banerjee for their support over the weekend.
Manager U15s Nth
Under 14 Central on Tour
The City Youth Under 14 Central travelled to play in the Holland Easter Open as St Albans City Youth FC, a party of 36, departing at 03:30am on Friday 14th April and returning at 22:30 on Monday 17th April.
This is considered to be a high quality tournament and one of the biggest in Europe so I entered us for the ‘B’ category as the ‘A’ category had the likes of MK Dons, Luton Town, York City, Cambridge United and various others which I assumed would be way above our standard.
The ‘B’ category consisted of 36 teams and to be honest I was worried that we may be out of our depth there as well.
Matches were 11 V 11 and 2 x 18 min halves so a huge amount of football which was fantastic, but incredibly tiring.
As it turned out I didn’t need to worry. The standard was very good, but the boys raised their game and played incredibly well to finish 3rd. With a little bit of good fortune I honestly think they would have won it.
Results and summary below
Saturday 15th April
Our first game was 09:00 and a 35 minute drive away so it was a very early start, which after the 03:30 set off the previous day and the late night was pretty tough. It didn’t help that we were dropped off at the wrong location and after finding out where we should have been, arrived at 8:50 to be told we had to play at 09:00 or forfeit the game.
We played with virtually no warm up and won 3:0 against local team Juliana Mill, who luckily for us turned out to be the weakest team in the group and possibly the tournament. GOALS FROM JOSH PENNING (2) & DANIEL ONOCHIE-WILLIAMS (recently scouted by Luton Town)
Next up was an English school team, Mangotsfield School, whose teacher took great pride in telling a couple of the parents that he was very lucky to have such a strong team made up entirely of boys from either Bristol Rovers or Bristol City U14 academy!! We went a goal behind, but in true CENTRAL style, never gave up and pulled back level only to win the game with a goal on 31 minutes. That result in itself made the tournament. GOALS FROM JONATHAN HARGREAVES AND CALUM CORNISH (ASSIST JONATHAN HARGREAVES) Hero of the Game – JONATHAN HARGREAVES who basically gave us the platform to storm to 3rd place.
Unfortunately we took a hit in that game as Jack Percy, one of our strongest players, strained his calf quite badly and looked to be out of the tournament, but certainly the day…more on that to come!
Our last game was against a big physical team from Denmark who had an amazing striker. The instructions were simple – two players on the striker at all times and work your socks off. Focus slipped for a split second and he broke away and scored. From that point we were chasing the game, conceded again and as a result lost 2:0, but finished 2nd in the group and qualifying for the overall finals on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday 16th April
A more relaxed start to the day which allowed everyone have a little lie in….well until about 9am when we were called for an Easter Egg hunt starting at 11.
We arrived in plenty time this time and got our schedule, seeing that we had the same Danish team as the previous day (revenge), plus a team from Cheshunt and a Russian team - HOW COOL IS THAT!
The best news though was that after warming up, Jack Percy, after some serious overnight rebuilding, confirmed he felt able to play. His mum said stuff it, I want him to play, so we covered his legs in that fancy blue tape you see top athletes wearing these days and were back up to 13 players (our 14th players Matty Bleakley broke his arm a month or so before the tournament so was travelling as deputy assistant manager but unable to play).
I say back up to 13 players but only 8 said they felt ok, the rest had aches, pains, strains, sprains from the 108 minutes of physical football played the previous day.
First up the team from RUSSIA. Very tight close game but we got a goal after 12 minutes and held on to win 1:0. GOAL – DANIEL ONOCHIE-WILLIAMS
Next up, Chars Youth from Cheshunt. We were all over them but couldn’t find the back of the net – then disaster struck in the 16th minute. Jack Percy…..AGAIN, took a heavy challenge and fell awkwardly on his arm. He was in a lot of pain and it didn’t look good. We suspected it was broken so he obviously had to come off. The wheels fell off at that point as we tried to deal with Jack and manage the game. The dutch staff initially were not very helpful and I lost my rag a little with them, which I regret now, but in the middle of a game and the heat of the moment, them telling us we would have to find our own way to the hospital wasn’t very helpful. We lost 2:0.
Last up was the Danish team from the previous day. We were down to 12 players, with only 6 now claiming they were ok! A win combined with an unlikely defeat for the English team gave us a chance to win the group, but a draw would guarantee 2nd and the 3rd place playoff final. The Danish team scored first on 11 mins but CENTRAL never give up and we pulled one back on 15 mins. The rest of the game was a stalemate so we earned the draw and qualified 2nd in the group going to the third place play off final. GOAL DANIEL ONOCHIE-WILLIAMS.
We were seriously struggling at this point and the boys didn’t look up for a 4th game, but we talked about it, I shouted a bit and we agreed it was only 36 minutes, then we were done. It took us a long time to break the DANISH opposition down and some seriously good defending from Elliot Smith and Rob Brown, but on 26 minutes we broke through and on 30 we sealed it to win 2:0 GOALS DANIEL ONOCHIE-WILLIAMS (can you see yet why Luton Town fancy Daniel?) and ANGELO CALATRAVA
PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT – ELLIOT SMITH / HERO OF THE TOURNAMENT – JONATHAN HARGREAVES / TOP GOALSCORER – DANIEL ONOCHIE-WILLIAMS
Not only did the boys play great, they also looked great thanks to the amazing generosity of our sponsor Vito Calatrava of MAYFIELD BUILDING CONTRACTORS who supplied a full tour strip and Tracksuit. Check out the photos.
Additionally, Kris Cornish of Hug the Dog Design & Creative Services (sounds interesting!), supplied a superb Banner to display on the back of the coach and at matches so we travelled like the pro’s!!
All up a successful but tiring trip, with lots of injuries and a confirmed broken arm :o(
Next season we’re going back to win it!