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Depleted youngsters lose out to River Plate

Posted on 17 January 2016  - 17:07

The harsh dismissal of Charlie Owens left our Under-18s with it all to do as we suffered a 2-0 defeat to River Plate in our third match of the 2016 Copa Chivas in Guadalajara, Mexico, today (Sunday, January 17).

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The midfielder was shown a straight red card in the second half after being adjudged to have elbowed an opponent during an aerial challenge, forcing us to play out the remainder of the Group C contest with 10 men.

Despite a good first half performance we were already a goal down at that stage, with the Argentine side capitalising on a mistake at the back to complete the scoring shortly before the hour mark.

“It was similar to yesterday’s game in many ways,” reflected Under-18s Coach Kieran McKenna. “I thought there were a lot of pleasing aspects of the performance but we’re in a very high-level tournament and any slips in concentration or moments where your levels drop are ruthlessly punished.

“We were pleased with the first half performance, we showed a lot of grit and character defensively against a good River Plate team, we caused them problems going forward and had some good opportunities to score, although we weren’t able to do so.

“Shortly after half-time we made a mistake on a clearance and got ruthlessly punished, then we had the sending-off, which I thought was a little bit unfortunate for Charlie as he was competing for a ball in the air and was adjudged to have used his elbow – and from there it was always going to be tough.

“Again the players kept going, though, and tried to push forward but then we got punished for a really poor mistake following their corner which led to the second goal, so hopefully it’s been a good learning curve in terms of the level of concentration that’s required in these games.”

Owens cleared off the line early in the 35-minutes-each-way match, before Samuel Shashoua went close to giving us the lead when his 25-yard free-kick crashed off the post and bounced across the face of goal.

Marcus Edwards then had a penalty appeal turned down as he dribbled into the box and went to ground under a challenge, but the referee saw no infringement and the teams went in level at the break.

River Plate edged themselves in front six minutes after the restart, but moments later Dylan Duncan went close to a leveller as he cut inside onto his right foot – only to see his effort zip just over the bar.

Owens then saw red with 15 minutes of the second half gone, with the scoring wrapped up eight minutes later as a misplaced pass from Edwards was seized upon following a River Plate corner and our opponents gleefully capitalised to make it 2-0.

Our group stage campaign ends at 9am local time on Tuesday when we play CD Universidad Católica of Chile.

Spurs U18s: Whiteman, Muscatt, Brown, Owens, Mukena, Tanganga, Edwards (Bennetts 60), Duncan, Sterling (Loft 52), Tracey (Roles 64), Shashoua.