Hatters youngsters excel to reach tournament semis
On Friday 27th November a mixture of our U10 / U11 academy players travelled to Dortmund in Germany to take part in the 2005 born Hallenmasters in the nearby town of Unna. This is the second year we have attended this particular tournament having had a great experience last season playing the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen and Rapid Vienna. Last year we narrowly missed out on achieving a place in the quarter finals and our aim was to go further in the competition this year.
Our academy boys started well progressing through the first group stages with some impressive performances but also learning a lot along the way around how to exploit and cope with different styles of play from European teams. We found the way Hannover rotated in possession particularly difficult to deal with and a great learning experience! Throughout all the fixtures the atmosphere was intense and often daunting which the players coped with exceptionally well.
Group Stage 1
1)Luton Town v SpVGG Wallstadt. Final score – 5-2.
2)Luton Town v FC Moenchengladbach. Final score – 5-3.
3)Luton Town v Werder Bremen. Final score – 2-3.
4)Luton Town v Hannover 96. Final score – 0-3.
5)Luton Town v JSG Palz Hellweg. Final score – 6-0.
The above results meant that we finished third in the initial group stages and were through to the gold round of the tournament on day 2. The standard and caliber of teams was exceptionally high and we drew; Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV, Schalke 04, PSV Eindhoven and SC Mechelen. To progress through to the quarter finals we would need to finish in the top 2 of the second group stages or finish as the best third-place team out of 4 groups.
Group Stage 2
1)Luton Town v Hamburger SV. Final score – 3-4.
2)Luton Town v SC Mechelen. Final score – 4-1.
3)Luton Town v Schalke 04. Final score – 1-2.
4)Luton Town v Borussia Dortmund. Final score – 2-1.
5)Luton Town v PSV Eindhoven. Final score – 2-1.
Despite narrow losses to both Hamburger SV and Schalke 04 the boys progressed in second place on goal difference finishing level on 9 points with Hamburger SV from the Bundesliga. Last year’s winners Schalke 04 finished with a perfect 15 points and were looking strong again to go on and win the tournament. The strength of the group was such that both Borussia Dortmund and PSV Eindhoven were eliminated at the second group stage.
Quarter Final Draw
1)VFL Wolfsburg v DSC Armenia Bielefeld
2)Luton Town v Hannover 96
3)Schalke 04 v VFL Bochum
4)Juventus v Hamburger SV
The quarter final line up was again extremely strong and we were pitted against Hannover 96 who had beaten us 3-0 earlier in group stage 1. After learning from the earlier game we managed to reverse the result and progress to the semi-final to face Armenia Bielefeld following a 3-0 victory and our performance of the tournament. Despite our best efforts the boys lost out narrowly 3-2 in the semi-final to Armenia Bielefeld despite hitting the post and the bar in the last minute things just didn’t fall our way.
Once the tears had subsided the boys can look back on the tournament and be extremely proud of what they achieved against some of the biggest clubs in Europe, finishing ahead of the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and PSV Eindhoven. The tournament was eventually won by Hamburger SV who overcame Bielefeld 5-4 in the final. The boys have represented the club in a glowing light and are a fine example of the academy moving from strength to strength in terms of the quality of young players it has. The boys will now look forward to meeting some of the same teams again out on the grass when we return to Germany in the summer.
All of our academy squad’s tour progress can be followed on our twitter account @ltfcacademytour.
(As above: Top left to right) Darcy Moffat, Pele McDermott, Jack Bateson, Charlie Mallett, Anthony Carr. (As above: Bottom left to right) Harvey Heeps, Evan Tweed, Logan Flecknall, Rio Bedingfield, Jake Burger.