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Lads let lead slip in last Mexico outing

Posted on 20 January 2016  - 07:17

Kieran McKenna described our Under-18s’ Copa Chivas campaign in Mexico as “a big learning curve” after we lost our final group stage match to CD Universidad Católica on Tuesday (January 19).


A brace from Ryan Loft saw us surge into a two-goal lead in the fourth of our four Group C matches in Guadalajara but the Chilean side stormed back to win 5-2, with our cause not helped by the second half dismissal of centre-back Japhet Tanganga for dissent.

“Obviously it’s a very disappointing outcome and a really disappointing finish to the group stage,” said Under-18s Coach Kieran.

“In this tournament we’ve competed against a very, very high level of opposition and although we’ve been competitive and had some big moments in all the games, there have been moments in the tournament where individuals’ weaknesses have been exposed which have cost us goals and meant we haven’t scored some of the goals we should have done.

“It’s a big learning curve for the players and at the end of this period they’ll all go away with a lot of things they know they need to get better at if they want to go on and enjoy success in their careers. What will really be the telling point will be whether they can take lessons from it and put them back into their game.”

On Tuesday’s first half showing, Kieran added: “I thought we had a really positive start, we scored two really good goals and caught Católica on the hop at little bit with how we set up.

“From there, though, they scored two absolutely world-class goals from nothing. We went from being in complete control of the game to being level at 2-2, then we had a big mistake on the stroke of half-time to concede again so after such a positive opening spell it was a really big setback to go in 3-2 down at half-time.”

Once again playing 35-minute halves, we took the lead after just three minutes when Kazaiah Sterling read a back-pass and set up Loft to thump into the top corner.

It was 2-0 eight minutes later as Jack Roles carried the ball forward before playing in Loft to double his tally, but Católica pulled one back on 16 minutes with their first shot on target – a 35-yard screamer into the top corner.

They then conjured up a fine leveller on the half-hour mark when some good one-touch passing culminated with the ball being curled home from outside the box and, two minutes later, we were behind as goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman spilled a free-kick and the rebound was tucked in.

We had a couple of chances after the restart but Sterling’s shot let him down as he went through one-on-one with the goalkeeper, while Jaden Brown flashed the ball dangerously across goal but, after the keeper couldn’t hold it, the ball was cleared off the line.

Tanganga then committed a foul and was sent off for dissent in the aftermath, with Católica taking a 4-2 lead from the resulting free-kick with 57 minutes gone. They completed the scoring 10 minutes later as our campaign came to a disappointing end.

Spurs U18s: Whiteman, Whyte (Griffiths 51), Brown, Stylianides, Mukena, Tanganga, Duncan, Roles, Sterling (Tracey 51), Loft (Edward 63), Shashoua (Bennetts 57).