Having lifted the trophy last year, we enjoyed a solid opening to our group stage campaign this time around and, after taking a 2-0 lead through Ryan Loft and Keanan Bennetts inside 27 minutes, we never looked back.
“It was a good start,” confirmed Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna. “Obviously in game one of a tournament there are lots of different aspects that you need to adapt to in terms of the environment, the conditions and the opposition but the players did that really quickly and settled into the game well.
“We scored two really good goals in the first half, another good goal in the second and we could have had a couple more as well so there are lots of positives to take, but obviously this is only the start and we’ll be looking for the boys to build on their performances in the next game tomorrow.”
Taking on Baltimore in a game of 40-minute halves, we went close early on when Loft set up midfielder Charlie Owens, whose left-footed half-volley sailed just over the bar.
Owens was to the fore again as we went ahead in the 14th minute. His shot came back off the inside of the post following Marcus Edwards’ pass, with Loft reacting quickest to tuck the ball into the net.
It was 2-0 on 27 minutes when Dylan Duncan cut inside from the left and played a clever reverse pass to Bennetts, who ran in behind the Baltimore defence and finished across the goalkeeper at the first time of asking.
Our back line was caught square as Celtic pulled a goal back through Tunde Akinlosotu two minutes before the break, but the two-goal cushion was restored mid-way through the second half when Loft’s effort beat the goalkeeper and Shilow Tracey swept it over the line at the back post.
We might have had a fourth goal soon afterwards when Joe Muscatt’s ball in from the right was volleyed towards the target by Samuel Shashoua, but the midfielder’s effort cannoned off the post.
We take on Jacksonville Armada in our second game of the tournament tomorrow (Thursday, December 17) at 11.30am local time.
Spurs: Austin, Muscatt (Roles 62), Tsaroulla, Owens (Stylianides 62), Tanganga, Brown, Bennetts (Tracey 55), J Pritchard (Goddard 55), Loft (Oteh 62), Edwards, Duncan (Shashoua 55).