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Youngsters lift IMG Cup in Florida

Posted on 21 December 2014  - 23:00

Our Academy won the IMG Cup in Florida with a 1-0 win over Black Rock in the tournament final on Sunday.

The players line up with the trophyCelebration time!Squad photo in Florida

Shayon Harrison’s extra time strike proved the difference between the sides as we claimed the Super Group Championship silverware after a competitive week of matches on the other side of the Atlantic.

Having beaten Baltimore Celtic and Mexican side Toluca, we recovered from a 1-0 defeat to the USA Under-17 national team in our final group stage outing on Saturday to claim the title against a Black Rock outfit that, like us, had topped their pool. They took on Brentford, Stevenage and the IMG Academy side en route to the final.

“I believe we were worthy winners in the end,” said Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna.

“We were up against a very talented Black Rock side who were worthy finalists themselves and they certainly gave us a good game.

“In the first half we adapted well to really tough conditions in terms of playing less than 24 hours after our last game, against the wind and against a quick side. We had the better of the play, had them pinned in, had a couple of good chances and also defended our penalty box well.

“In the second half they came on strongly, but I always thought we were the more likely team to score.”

The Black Rock goalkeeper was quickly off his line to smother the ball at the feet of Ryan Loft after a clever touch by Charlie Owens in the first period, while Harrison went close to breaking the deadlock after the interval when his in-swinging free-kick cannoned back off the crossbar.

Our opponents very nearly took the lead themselves with the end of normal time looming but they also hit the woodwork.

Harrison almost netted a last-gasp winner when he swivelled in the penalty area and fired a pass from Zenon Stylianides just the wrong side of the upright, but the forward made no mistake three minutes into extra time when he converted after Anton Walkes combined with Kyle Walker-Peters down the right and sent in a cross.

Lloyd Ross then had two near misses – he couldn’t quite find the net after getting on the end of a ball in from fellow substitute Anthony Georgiou and then went close with a shot from the edge of the box – as we retained our slender advantage until the final whistle.

“It’s been a really good experience for the players,” added Kieran as he looked back on the competition. “We’ve played against top sides from Mexico and America, some very talented teams, so it’s been excellent.

“We’ve had four games in a week with a lot of different things to adapt to and the boys have done very well. It’s a pleasing way for them to finish up the first half of the season.”

Spurs: Voss, Walker-Peters (Muscatt 90), Ogilvie, Owens (Ross 90), Maghoma (Paul 90), Walkes, Sonupe (Stylianides 72), Amos, Loft (Daly 90), Harrison, Azzaoui (Georgiou 55).