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Balloan reach new heights at English Super Cup

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After months of hard work from the committee of Ballloan FC they were ready to make the long trip to Manchester for the English Super Cup. Through all the fundraising which included bag packing, a race night and a bingo night the club, gaining sponsorship from the smokefreesport.co.uk campaign, the Inverness Common Good Fund and kit sponsorship from local councillors Jean Slater and Stuart Wardlow disgressary budget and local companies Scotbark the club managed to raise enough funds to take two squads to the tournament in Manchester.
The club prepared themselves for a long journey which started on Wednesday the 27th leaving the city at 6am. The club arrived in Manchester at 3pm to get a tour of Manchester City's 50,000 seater stadium. The youngsters managed to sneak a peak at the changing rooms, dugouts and get photos in the seats that are used by the likes of Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero.
The English Super Cup got Under way the following morning with Balloan Under 15's coming up against Hough End Griffins in the opening game. Unfortunately the side from Manchester were a lot more physical as they downed the Highland side 3-0. The Under 14's were on the pitch immediately after the 15's as they faced St Martins FC from Guernsey. Again they came up against a very well organised side as they were defeated 4-1 with Gavin Urquhart getting Balloans first goal outside of Scotland to make history for the club. Later that afternoon the Under 15.s faced their second opponent of the day Abbey Hulton from Stoke. The squad put in a very impressive performance to defeat Abbey Hulton getting Balloan their first three points of the tournament. Goals were scored by Craig McDermott and Gregor Jackson. Like round one, Balloan 14's were on after the 15's. However they came across another strong outfit in Northfield AFC and after strong resistance were eventually beaten 4-0.
Day two came around and the Under 15's were in high spirits following their victory from the day before. They came up against Trinidad Lions of Trinidad and Tobago. After a slow start Balloan recorded a solid 7-0 victory. Goals on this occasion came from Cailean Davidson, Liam Mitchell, Jake Mackenzie, a James Fraser double, Gregor Jackson and a screamer from Charlie Thomson. Later that afternoon the Under 15's faced pointless St Johns Roses. After going one down they team fought back and equalised through a neat finish from Gregor Jackson. Balloan were then thankful to goalkeeper Scott Fraser who pulled off a fine second half penalty save to keep the scores tied.
The Under 14's faced Hesketh Bank FC who were a questionable Under 14 side however Balloan were resigned to a 6-1 loss however there was positive signs of improvement. On this occasion Declan Bray got the goal with a neat finish Under the keeper.
The final day of the group saw the Under 14's play two games. First up they faced Broughton Community. A much better performance from the Scottish side however were beaten 2-0 but the team gave 100%. Later that morning they came up against a well organised Nordic Football who were quick out the traps and scored 5 within the first 25 minutes. However Balloan defended well from there on in and kept the score at 5. Not the best of group games for Balloan but were the youngest squad by far in that group and can be proud.
The Under 15's final group game was against Beachfield FC who were unbeaten and a lot bigger and physical than Balloan. Injuries were high now in the 15's squad as they were defeated 5-0 by the English outfit.
The final day saw Balloan Under 14's face St Martins in the Trophy Final (5th vs 6th). However like the first occasion St Martins edged the game 3-0 after a quick start.
For the Balloan Under 15's they faced Abbey Hulton. This game was to be much closer as Danni Bruce put the Highland side 1-0 up early on. However three quick goals in the second half saw the side from Stoke go ahead. Cameron MacCheyne then produced a screamer of a free kick to renew hope for Balloan but Abbey Hulton scored once more right at the death as the game finished 4-2.
Both squads and coaches voted for their player of the tournament for both teams. The Under 14's voted for goal Daniel Maciver who put in some fine individual performances to keep the scores down in a lot of games plus a fine penalty save on day two. Like the 14's the Under 15's voted for shot stopper Scott Fraser who made some fine saves including a penalty save to take home the prize for his age group.
In the end there was no silverware for the side from the Highlands but both squads behaved excellently throughout the whole trip and there has already been talks about future trips away with the club.

Sean Selkirk | YFS North Region Journalist
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