Isle of Man Centre of Excellence U16’s at Manchester Cup

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Isle of Man Centre of Excellence U16’s at Manchester Cup

Excellent write up from last weekends Easter football tournament in Manchester – courtesy of Isle of Man FA. Black Grace Cowley proudly sponsored the Under 16’s football kit.

The Isle of Man FA Centre of Excellence U16 boys travelled to the North West of England over Easter to compete in the New Balance Manchester Cup.

The squad warmed up for the tournament on Good Friday with a fixture against Merseyside County FA side Aintree Villa FC, played in somewhat surreal pitch surroundings, namely the middle of the Grand National horse racing course! An excellent all round display saw the boys claim a well deserved 4 – 1 victory on a very hot afternoon. The goals coming from Alec Ecolango, skipper Adam Cooil & Island debutants Harry Grant and Joao Pedro.

The Manchester Cup kicked off on Saturday at the Armitage Sports Complex (Manchester Metropolitan University) in sweltering conditions.

The COE faced tournament favourites Dungannon United (Belfast) in the opening game and battled to a fantastic 2 – 2 draw with the impressive Joao Pedro scoring and a last gasp equaliser coming from Captain Cooil.

The second game pitted the Manx boys against Midlands outfit Birmingham St. Georges who were a big strong physical side but this didn’t faze the COE at all and they more than matched their opponents in an entertaining 0 – 0 draw. The assured Charlie Gibson, Louis Dean & U15 Scott Horne doing particularly well.

Kieran Chiew netted early for the COE in the final game of the day against SFC Manchester as the boys were starting to gain real confidence and move the ball around beautifully. Several chances came and went before a straight ball over the top caught the boys napping a little and they were punished as the score went to 1 – 1. The second half saw the COE continue to dominate and once again, despite all the possession and creativity they simply couldn’t grab the second goal. They were punished with minutes remaining as the opposition smashed & grabbed a late winner to make it 2 – 1.

The final group games & final were played on the Sunday at Platt Lane Sports Complex, former Academy of Manchester City. Despite the two draws and defeat the lads still had a chance to make the final if they could win their remaining two group games.

The first of those matches coming against Sims Tours South Africa. The Africans had pace all over the park & were also very good technically but the COE started well and began to assert themselves on the touring team. Sadly the match ended in a crushing 1 – 0 defeat in blisteringly hot conditions but the lads were determined to put things right in their last game.

The Pro-Academy Football Manchester was a team made up of lads that were in & out of professional set ups so were going to be a stern test. Once again the COE started superbly despite fatigue and moved the ball around with a lot of confidence before winning a penalty which captain Adam Cooil dispatched with aplomb in off the post. A resolute second half defensive display ensured that finally the Manx boys had their victory as the game finished 1 – 0.

The boys finished the tour with an Easter Monday visit to the JMO Sports Grounds in Skelmersdale to face Fieldway FC of the Merseyside U16’s County League. The Merseysiders eventually won 5 – 2 in a tasty affair.

Manager Mark Watterson was delighted with the efforts of his squad by saying:

“We wanted to maximise the amount of football these boys could play in the relatively short time frame we had. To come through 7 matches in 4 days with a squad of 20 was really quite something, particularly against the standard of opposition we faced and the way in which the boys performed. The squad were a credit to the Isle of Man in terms of both their efforts on the pitch and their behaviour off it. I’d like to thank Rob Mason for assisting me throughout the U16 COE programme, all the parents who made the journey to support and help out & of course the players who have been magnificent. Finally our best wishes go to Morgan Naylor who pulled up injured on Friday and was unable to play any further part. You’ll be back soon hopefully mate.

I would like mention the fantastic sponsorship by Black Grace Cowley for the new kit, facilitated by Sue Gibson! Thank you for all your help 👍

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Posted in Forecast & Review, Isle of Man