Eric Ramsay reflects on another day at the Iber Cup in Denmark
It was a successful day at the Iber Cup for both of our young sides. The U18s began the day with an early kick-off against Vigor of Norway and were comfortable 3-0 winners. Having taken the lead early in the game’s first half, we were able to control the game’s tempo with a view to reserving energy for the day’s second game. The goals came from Kian Taylor, Lifumpa Mwandwe and Zac Hartley.
In a must win game for the U15s/U16s vs Sweden’s ALVSJo AIK the side turned-in a strong performance that resulted in a 1-0 win. This ensured a second place finish in the group-stage and progression to the morning’s 1/4 final tie vs the Icelandic first division’s Fylkir. The group responded really well to the pressure of the situation and showed a level-headedness that allowed them to see the game out professionally.
In the day’s final game, the U18s faced Danish Superliga side Esbjerg. Theirs was an U19 side that contained a number of Danish youth internationals and had recently competed in the UEFA Youth League; this was the type of game that we came to the tournament for and one that really tested the players on all fronts. With the fatigue of the earlier fixture weighing heavy, we anticipated having to grind a result out. However, the players showed a real energy in how they pressed the ball and built play well. Despite going 1-0 down shortly before half time, the group demonstrated the strength of their mentality in establishing the upper-hand in the game and equalised mid-way through the second half through another Lifumpa Mwandwe goal. The result meant that the U18s finished top of the group stage and will face a semi-final tie on Friday.
Phil Smart, the Academy’s Head of Goalkeeping, had the following to day about the day’s events:
“Given the hot and humid weather conditions the boys in both groups have shown great application and have adapted unbelievably well. Today's games with the 18s showed mature performances at both ends of the scale in managing the game in their first fixture of the day then going again in the second fixture of the day. The tempo of the game was so high and they competed technically and tactically very well. The U15/16s have really grown as a group and showed that they can handle the challenges of being away from their usual routines to applying themselves excellently and this has shown in games that they have played."