Up against a physical Mexican team who, like us, had won their first two games, we stood firm to ensure the points were shared and thus we topped the group on goal difference.
That means we’ll meet Maccabi Haifa in the tournament Final this evening (Sunday, December 20), where we’ll look to lift the trophy for the second consecutive year.
Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna was pleased with the spirit on show from the boys in a very tough contest on Saturday.
“It was a very challenging night for the players against an older, very physical team,” he said.
“Toluca tried to be intimidating in the way that they played so for the young players in our squad to come up against that and to be able to get the result that we required to get to the Final was very pleasing.
“It was a solid team effort in terms of limiting their chances – it was a very stop-start game with a lot of fouls and set pieces but we competed very well, were brave in our challenges and also brave in terms of trying to get on the ball and make things happen.
“At the back, Japhet Tanganga stood out in an excellent back four unit with the bravery and quality of some of his defending and he was very well supported by Jaden Brown beside him and also Zenon Stylianides and Charlie Owens in front of them. We were very tough in the middle and attacking-wise the boys were brave in their passing and tried to get on the ball as much as they could.”
The game, once again featuring 40-minute halves, yielded few clear-cut chances at either end.
Toluca sent a handful of in-swinging free-kicks into our box in the first half with the wind behind them, but goalkeeper Brandon Austin came out to claim them authoritatively.
Marcus Edwards (pictured, above) had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee in the second period after being brought down in the box, while the same player set up Ryan Loft with a clever reverse pass – only for the front man to shoot wide of the near post.
Today’s Final kicks-off at 5.30pm local time.
Spurs: Austin, J Pritchard, Muscatt, Owens, Tanganga, Brown, Bennetts (Goddard 57), Stylianides, Loft, Edwards, Shashoua (Oteh 76).