|Newbattle reflect on successful Danish campaign|
Newbattle Under 15 football side produced an excellent series of results to reach the quarter finals of the Dana Cup in Hjorring, Denmark last week.
The Dana Cup is the second biggest youth tournament in Europe and the U15s age group attracted 126 teams from 24 nations with Newbattle the only school side participating.
Newbattle warmed up for their group with two friendly matches which saw a 3-1 win over German side Untermissen/Ochsenberg; who were to reach the last 32 of the event, with goals from Darren McCRaw (2) and Declan Heron. The second saw a 0-0 draw against Finnish side Bones who were an U16 side.
A tough group awaited the Newbattle boys with Swedish South East League Winners Viljan IK, Norwegian Pro Youth side Voss FK and Tonsberg from Bergen. The Swedes were tipping themselves to go far in the tournament but Newbattle came out of the blocks quickly and never gave their opponents time to settle. Darren McCraw opened the scoring after 15 minutes and Matthew Nisbet added a second 8 minutes later. The Swedes tried everything to get back into the game but Newbattle refused to get upset by their antics and could have easily added to their 2-0 tally in the second half.
Later in the day Voss were the next opponents and the Norweigian outfit opened well forcing Fleming into 2 great saves in the opening period. Inspired by the Player of the Tourmanment Connor Lawrie, Newbattle began to get a foothold and open the scoring 5 minutes before the interval when Ross Moir shot home from the angle of the box. The second half saw Newbattle defend bravely to hold their lead but their suffered heartbreak in the final minute when the Norwegians gained a deserved point forcing the ball over the line after a goalmouth scramble.
Newbattle went into their final group game knowing a draw would guarantee a place in the "A" tournament but looked sluggish and nervous against Tonsberg in a match played in front of a big crowd and the Bergen side took the lead in 10 minutes. McCraw equalised a few minutes later, though even this did not settle the side. The second half was a different matter as Newbattle produced the form they had shown all week. Heron, McCraw and Dalgleish all came close, Lawrie was denied what seemed to be a stonewall penalty, and the woodwork was hit. It seemed as though the breakthrough would never come but in the final minute, a free kick was won on the left and a cross from Lawrie was perfect for Rogers-Jones to power a header home and secure a 2-1 win.
The last minute goal turned out to give Newbattle the group winners trophy which had the added bonus of a by in the knock-out phase to the last 32 where they met Baerum Il one of the biggest youth clubs in Norway, Newbattle produced a stunning first half performance and the only surprise at the interval was that margin was only 2-0, McCraw netting with a free kick after Melrose had been fouled and then setting up Rogers-Jones at the back post for the second.
Baerum took the game to Newbattle in the second half but the Midlothian side exploited the space left at the back and made the game safe with 12 minutes remaining with a fine finish from Lewis Hogwarth. With five minutes left Baerum pulled one back but Kyle Melrose restored the three goal margin when he rounded the keeper and walked the ball home to send Newbattle into the last 16.
Stars and stripes, an American development squad and previous winners of the Dana Cup. The USA side had a huge squad and looked the fresher in the first half but the hard working Newbattle side restricted them to long range efforts. The second half was even but the Americans opened the scoring with 18 minutes left with a fine strike from 30 yards. Newbattle response was positive and after enjoying their best period of the game equalised with 11 minutes left with McCraw setting up Hogarth who netted from 10 yards. The US side regained the lead with 5 minutes but Newbattle found the energy from somewhere to launch a final attack which saw Melrose bundled over in the area and McCraw netted from the spot to make the final score 2-2. In the penalties which followed Newbattle held their nerve with McCraw Dalgleish and Innes netting and stars and stripes missing with their first three kicks to amazingly send the scots through to the quarter final to face Georgian side Vake which is the name used for the travelling youth squad made up from the three top professional clubs in Tblisi.
The amazing run ended at this phase against a top quality side who played some fantastic football and the tired Newbattle side were forced to work exceptionally hard to keep the score down. A 4-1 defeat was no disgrace, Hogarth scoring the Newbattle goal. The Newbatle players held their head up high realising what they had achieved being in the last 8 along with professional youth sides from Estonia , Poland France Sweden and a regional select side from Mexico.
Newbattle coach John Frame said "This was an unbelievable achievement from the boys. For a school team to do this is astonishing. We knew we had a good squad and had hoped to qualify for the A event and perhaps reach the last 32 but to do what they did was beyond our wildest dreams. This was achieved through hard work, some great football and a team spirit second to none. The side we eventually lost to are effectively the Georgian National Under 15 B squad! The respect the boys gained from teams from all over the world as a result of their performances was well merited. Even more important though is the way the boys conducted themselves throughout the nine day trip on and off the pitch."
The Newbattle side also enjoyed Golf Bowling Swimming and a visit to a theme park during their stay in Denmark.
Newbattle squad: Gareth Fleming , Declan Dalgleish, Cameron Hall, James Rogers-Jones , Ross Currie (Captain) Blair Innes, Connor Lawrie , Calvin Clark, Darren McCraw, Ross Moir , Kyle Melrose,Declan Heron, Euan Russell , Ryan Kingwell, Matthew Nisbet, Lewis Hogarth