|SYFA West impress in San Sebastián sunshine|
The SYFA West Region's Under 15 team have had a busy July so far, visiting San Sebastián (home of Spanish La Liga outfit Real Sociedad) in the Basque Country, Spain to take part in the Donosti Cup (click here for official tournament website).
They are the first of three SYFA West squads on their travels, with the Under 17s heading to Hungary and Denmark the destination for the Under 14s.
Below is a full review of the team's fortunes in Spain:
Day 1 (1st July) - The players left Glasgow and travelled by coach to Manchester Airport, arriving in France they were picked up by the Donosti Cup transport and taken to their accomodation in San Sebastian.
Day 2 (2nd July) - The boys had a great day out at the beach, recovering from their travel yesterday. The first game today was against METZ ESAP and an excellent 8-1 win in their opening game saw the team go top of their group.
There were first half goals from Brendan Louis Mitchell, Mark Callaghan and Andrew Hume, which set the West squad on their way to victory. In the second half the West showed a disciplined performance and finished strongly with goals from Mark Callaghan (2), Keiran Hughes, Sam Gallagher, Christopher McDonald and Dylan Porteous.
Day 3 (3rd July) - In today’s group game the squad drew 1-1 with KOSTKAS - MARIAREN BIHOTZA and sat in second place in the group with a game at 1pm on Wednesday against top of the group MARIÑO CD.
The West started well having good chances through Christopher McDonald when he dribbled past two defenders only to drag his shot narrowly wide. Kieran Hughes then also had a chance blocked off the line from the spanish defender after good work down the left hand side by Dylan Porteous.
The West then found themselves behind when a long ball over the top caught out the back four and the Kostkas striker slipped the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0 at half time.
Into the second half and again the West came out strongly taking the ascendency trying to find an equaliser. David Coyle was first to try when he nipped the ball past the goalkeeper when through on goal, only to be hauled to the floor. A yellow card for the goalkeeper and a free-kick to the West. From the resulting free-kick Ruaridh Clark’s effort was headed of the line.
Both teams then had moments off the ball without really troubling either goalkeeper. Then with about 15 minutes to play the West found their equaliser when a long throw from David Coyle was handled by the Spanish defender and a penalty was awarded. Ruairidh Clark stepped up and slotted it by the goalkeeper. 1-1.
Depending on the outcome of the other matches, the group winners play 2nd place from Group A and the runners up in this group play the winners of group E on Thursday.
Day 4 (4th July) - Today the West played against a Donosti Regional Squad, in their final match of the group stages.
The opposition had beaten the French team from our section convincingly yesterday, so that left the West with the predicament of needing at least a draw to ensure safe passage through to the knockout stages or leave their fate up to the outcome of the other game in the section.
The West started strong and saw an excellent chance spurned by David Coyle in front of goal, sadly he couldn’t get the ball out from under his foot, and could only hit a tame shot.
The Donosti team hit the post from the angle with a 25 yard shot, it rebounded to Lee Grant who cleared well under pressure. Next up was a great chance for Brendan Luis-Mitchell, who was sent clean through with a perfectly timed run, by Sam Gallacher and with only the keeper to beat he lofted the ball goalwards, only to see it float wide of the target.
Half time came and went, and with the West looking the better team, it seemed that a goal would come at any time. Chances came and went for David Coyle who was alone up top.
West made a change with the introduction into midfield of captain Ruairidh Clark. Coyle worked tirelessly, closing players down, showing for the ball, and tackling as if his life depended on it. The Spaniards couldn’t cope with the hustle and bustle that the West brought to the game, Andrew Hume was being fouled all over the midfield, and did well not to react in anyway but kept his cool
As the game drew to a close, there was one more chance for the West, when the ball fell to David Coyle who was struggling to reach the ball before the Spanish defender, and as the ball was only partially cleared, Mark Callaghan threw himself at the ball, only to see it cleared away.
The match ended 0 - 0, and after the match, the West coach Driver driver we had, told us that the Spaniards had complimented the West on their play and ability, and seemingly they thought that all they had to do was turn up to win. The draw saw both teams through with the West finishing runners up in the group. They would now play SPORTING DE HERRERA in the next knock out phase to reach the quarter finals
Day 5 (5th July) - Sadly today's weather in Spain mirrored our game and West Region Under 15s participation in the Donosti Cup came to an end, with the team losing 3-1 to a strong Spanish side in the last 16 stage. The local team started out the quickest and attacked from the start.
West had quite a few changes for today's match in their starting line up, and some players were played out of their natural position in order that everyone got a decent amount of game time. The West did have a couple of chances in the first half, however it just was not to be our day, and we were well off the pace of the game.
Two poor goals were gifted to our opponents, indecision from the centre of defence allowed easy finishes and this meant West were always chasing the game. The second half saw a number of changes, the West team fought to get back into the game, the players passed well and created a couple of chances.
By this time the West were gaining momentum, and just as the comeback looked on, disaster struck, when our keeper Jonathan McCart came out to collect the ball in the air, he never got to it, and the ball came off of the Spanish players head and into the back of the net.
Minutes later the West scored, when a throw in from David Coyle, was headed home by Andrew Hume. The West would press and press again, but to no avail. A special mention goes out to keeper Scott Watson, who sadly got injured on our second day in Spain, and who never managed to play.
The players have been a credit to their families, clubs and their region whilst in Spain and have enjoyed their Spanish experience. With a couple of days left, we are sure to make the most of the time we have remaining, then it's back on Sunday night to sunny Glasgow.