Silverware and quarter-final finish for young Town stars
A selection of Luton Town’s Under-11 Academy Squad played their part in a top International festival in Stuttgart over the weekend and came home with some silverware.
The Hatters’ youngsters triumphed in an opening tournament on the Saturday before reaching the quarter-final stage of the main tournament the following day.
With top teams from Germany, together with Switzerland, Bosnia and Croatia the young Hatters, together with Cambridge United, were the first clubs to be invited in the 12th edition.
Saturday saw the first planned tournament, which was designed for teams travelling further afield, in preparation for Sunday’s main event and enabled additional football support participating against a host of different clubs.
Saturday’s tournament was a 16-team event, with two groups of eight teams, with the top two clubs from each league progressing to the semi-finals.
Game 1 v KFC Uerdingen Won 1-0
Game 2 v NK Slavonski Won 3-0
Game 3 v SV Horn Won 4-2
Game 4 v BFC Dynamo Lost 0-1
Game 5 v Kolibri Bihac Won 5-0
Game 6 v SSV Jahn Regensburg Won 1-0
Game 7 v TSV Wendlingen Drew 2-2
These results saw the Town win the group and progress to the knockout stages.
• Semi Final v FV Ravensburg Won 3-0
• Final v SSV Jahn Regensburg Won 2-0
Coach Marc Tracey told lutotown.co.uk: “The performances throughout the day were challenging rewarding in a number of ways and a great learning experience. Winning this pre-tournament festival provided positive confidence within the camp, although we knew the real test would come the following day.
“A lot of compliments were provided by the opposition for our performances and conduct which was pleasing to hear. The test now was to repeat and demonstrate certain aspects as we encouraged consistency and discipline.”
In the Sunday the Town were placed in Group 3 of 8, with the first game at 10am.
The Hatters’ group consisted of the following teams together with the outcomes:
• Game 1 v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim Lost 1-3
• Game 2 v SV Plundershausen Won 4-0
• Game 3 v Spvgg Satteldorf Drew 0-0
• Game 4 v TSV Wendlingen Won 2-0
• Game 5 v Alemannia Aachen Lost 0-1
These performances and results enabled the Hatters to finish third, which was not enough to progress to the Gold Cup, involving all first and second placed teams.
Coach Tracey added: “TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, who ended up as Finalists of the Gold Cup, certainly were a good team and in our first fixture demonstrated that when you do not focus well, you will be punished. This itself is a great learning experience for all. The Alemannia Aachen fixture also proved that the finer details become more exposed when playing quality opposition, and therefore two big errors is the difference between progressing or not.
“Although you never wish to experience this, it is important that players understand these aspects and sometimes feeling the disappointment makes you stronger. We hope so!”
• Last 16 v Neu Ulm Won 2-0
• Quarter-Finals v VfR Wormatia Won 3-0
• Semi-Finals v Cambridge United Drew 0-0 (Lost 5-3 on Pens)
On the Silver Cup performance, Tracey said: “The Semi-Final was a positive performance and was all about taking your chances, which we failed to do on this occasion and paid the price in the shoot-out. The quality on show from both teams, deserved to be the final, but you can never choose when you wish to play someone – unless it’s a friendly.
“It is always great to test ourselves against other good clubs. We want to be tested. We want to be challenged and especially on tour when so many other factors come into play, it is so valuable for all in the learning and developing aspects. The competition was great to witness and even within the squad places were competitive as players understand that it is not always equal playing time. There comes a time within the development where tougher decisions are made and players understand that they too need to demonstrate certain requirements when it comes to playing certain teams. It’s the competitive edge within the development phase. It can bring out different qualities within the competitive environment.
“The final position of 19th from 48 teams was not what we anticipated on the pitch from a group of players who are a talented, however a number of good learning aspects were exposed and I’m sure from this experience all will grow stronger for it.”
The top eight places in the tournament included:
1. Hamburg 2. HJK Helsinki 3. Borussia Dortmund 4. Fortuna Dusseldorf
5. Borussia Monchengladbach 6. Rot Weiss Essen 7. VfL Bochum 8. Juventus
On the tour itself, Tracey said: “The tour was seen as a success despite the final position. Success in youth is not just about the result on the pitch. Naturally everyone wants to win, but as long as everyone provided the best they could and enjoyed and learnt from the tour, that is the real result! The players were a pleasure to take away and certainly demonstrated Luton Town Football Club in a great professional and positive manner.”
Squad: M. Burrell, D. Kadji, J. Ogwauzor, J. McGlinchey, B. Weyman, S. Dogruer, A. Hay, C. Patino, B. Stevens and L. Kapadia Staff: Marc Tracy and James Townsend.
Final Position = 19th (From 48 clubs)
Final: 1899 Hoffenheim v Stuttgart Kickers (4-0)