Academy U-15s French Tournament Report

As well as our Under 11s, our Under 15s also travelled to France over the Easter bank holiday weekend, writes Jason Brindley. This is their story….

Early hours Friday morning our U15s departed Oswestry and headed for Le Portel, France to compete in an 8 team tournament against teams from around Europe. After a long day of travelling we arrived in Le Portel and settled in well ahead of the first group game on Saturday afternoon.

First day of competition arrived and we were up against the hosts of the tournament, Stade Portelois which was also the opening game of the tournament.

With a big crowd following the game, both teams started very nervously, not wanting to make a mistake, nor take risks. Eventually, the first goal of the game came 15 minutes from time and it went to the hosts. After a mix up at the back for TNS, Stade Portelois took advantage and slotted home.

Searching for that equaliser, TNS pilled on the pressure and were rewarded with a goal, Regan Jones up from CB to head in from 6 yards out which also happened to be the last touch of the game. Game finished 1-1.

With a late start Saturday afternoon, it meant only 1 game during that day. However, with 2 games Sunday, the boys were excited for a full day of football. First up was Royal Excel Mouscron of Belgium. They had also drawn their first game and so both teams were looking to get 3 points to almost cement their spot in the semi-final.

The game started and TNS were slow out of the blocks, not finding their rhythm and going 1-0 down shortly before the half time break. Yet again, it was another mistake from TNS which saw us go 2-0 down. Not admitting defeat just yet, and showing great character, TNS piled on the pressure and it was that boy again, Regan Jones who popped up with another header at the back post to pull 1 goal back. Although we were creating chances in the remaining minutes of the game, unfortunately TNS ran out of time and fell 2-1 to Royal Excel Mouscron.

In the other game in the group both teams drew 0-0 which meant TNS still had a great chance to qualify. With the way other results had gone, a win by 2 or more goals in TNS’ final game would cement a semi final spot for the Saints.

With the pressure on, the young Saints rose to the occasion and started the game strong, creating great opportunities and threatening the AS Marck goal. It was Harvey Edwards who met the cross in from the corner to glance it in and take a 1-0 lead. Looking more comfortable after finding their rhythm, TNS were searching for that most important second goal to give them that 2 goal cushion and it came via Ben Buley.

Lewis Bloor crossed in low and Ben Buley scored an unorthodox over head kick. The game was then put to put bed when Ben Mahoney, through on goal lobbed the keeper, only for Lewis to hammer home to ensure no defender could clear off the line.

Having finished second in the group meant TNS would be up against Kent SFA in the semi final, the tournament favourites who had topped the other group. Kent SFA looked strong in their previous performances and TNS would need to be near their best to get a win and a place in the final. TNS started very strong, creating chances and getting shots off and testing the keeper.

They held a lot of possession and denied Kent any of the ball. The game really came to life when Ben Mahoney attempted an audacious over head kick after setting himself up. It took a miraculous save from the goalkeeper to tip the shot over the bar, one that was destined for the top corner. Despite all the pressure from TNS and chance after chance goes begging, it was Kent SFA who took the lead after breaking quickly and finishing calmly.

After the goal, TNS allowed Kent even more of the ball and they created chances themselves, George Scott, the TNS goalkeeper keeping his team in the game with some fine saves. The Saints kept pushing for an equaliser, but had no luck.

Ryan Morgan hit a fine effort from outside the box that crashed against the post in the dying minutes of the game and George Scott, up from his own goal for a corner who sweetly struck a half volley that looked to be sending the game into extra time until a late deflection which sent it out for a corner, however, that proved to be the last touch of the game as the referee strangely blew for full time. The Saints, after a great team performance bow out in the semi final.

As the weekend came to an end it was a great opportunity enjoyed by the players, coaches and even travelling parents, we appreciate appreciate all the support they gave. We were presented with some great challenges and opportunities to learn and develop them, which we will reflect upon.

The boys conducted themselves very well and shown their professionalism throughout the weekend. We will look forward to building on from the tournament with an exciting semi final in the JPL National Cup hosted in the English capital.

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