Over the weekend we concluded our 2017/2018 Academy season, with teams participating in the Pilgrim Cup hosted by Boston United, writes Jason Brindley.
On Saturday, we travelled with our odd-numbered age groups (U-9s, U-11s, U-13s and U15s). It is the first time we have entered the Pilgrim Cup, which was held at RAF Cranwell.
The tournament across the board contained some top quality opposition, with teams including Stoke City, Birmingham City, Leicester City, Cardiff City and Nottingham Forest to name just a few. It was a great experience for our Academy youngsters to play so many top quality opposition sides on the same day in a competitive environment.
Our U-9s and U-11s were both extremely unlucky. The former missed out on qualification to the second phase on goal difference.
Our U-11s finished joint top of their group, but were eliminated on goal difference. They had a great day and played some brilliant football, beating eventual winners Nottingham Forest along the way. They were very unfortunate to not proceed to the final stages.
Our U-13s and U-15s also competed well in difficult groups. The format took some getting used to, with smaller-sided games and quick 12 minute games, meaning that it was important to start well. It was an interesting challenge for our Academy youngsters.
On Sunday it was the turn of the even-numbered age groups, as we entered our U-12s, U-14s and U-16s age groups.
Our U-12s had a difficult group with Stoke City looking very strong. They grew as the day went on though and put in some excellent performances.
Our U-14s qualified for the finals without conceding a goal. They are an extremely good group, with some exciting players. The smaller sided format suited them and they put in some brilliant performances. They were unfortunate to lose in the three-way play-off final.
Finally, our U-16s completed the weekend’s Academy action. They took part in an 8 team group, with each team playing each other in a 12 minute game, with the top 4 then proceeding. There were some strong teams, including Cardiff City, in the group.
They finished second place in the group, despite not losing a game, just one point behind top place. We won the semi-finals, followed by the final – both nail biting as they went to penalties. We only had a squad of nine, playing 9-a-side, in blistering heat. I was extremely proud of the boys and the way they battled throughout against some strong teams.
We would like to thank Boston United for inviting us to their tournament, it was a great weekend, the weather was beautiful and the facilities were very good. Thanks to all our parents for making the journey also.
To conclude our weekend, massive congratulations to our U-15s boys who were victorious in their schoolboys finals. Wrexham Schoolboys (lead photograph) were crowned national champions and they consist of our Academy players. We are very proud of them all. Well done boys.
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