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Milk Cup progress for Rangers, Motherwell and Partick Thistle

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The Milk Cup campaign has continued for Rangers under-15s, Motherwell under-17s and Partick Thistle under-17s in Northern Ireland, with the tournament progressing into the semi-final stages. 

The teams have been split into groups of four, depending on their final standings in the group stage, with the three Scottish clubs meeting teams from around the world.

Rangers’ final game of the league group came against AS Roma USA, which ended up 1-0 to the American side after a cagey affair.It was late sub Daniel Ferguson of Roma who was finally able to make an impact after both sides had squandered many chances. This meant the boys in blue finished seventh in the Junior Section, entering them into the Junior Globe competition for teams between fourth and eighth.

The semi-final was against Sydney United, with the Glasgow side winning 2-0. It was a much better performance by Rangers, who were pushed all the way by the impressive young Australian side. Josh McPake was able to pounce on a poor clearance and slot home coolly to make it 1-0 early on. The next goal did not come until the second half when substitute Zak Rudden, who has been on fine form in this tournament, scored a wonderful lob over the Aussie keeper, Jacob Botic.

This result put Rangers into the final of the Globe competition, where they will face County Down on Friday.

In the Premier Section, both Partick Thistle and Motherwell have been in action, and on Wednesday both teams played their final games of the group.

Motherwell secured a 2-2 draw against Chilean side O’Higgins,  at The Warren in Portstewart. Youngster Robbie Leitch opened the scoring for the Steelmen with a wonderful free-kick from the left-hand side. But it was the Chilean’s who drew the next blood, with Diego Abraham Gonzalez slamming in a volley from inside the box.

Early into the second-half Motherwell were given a penalty after the O’Higgins captain was adjudged to have handled it, but Ryan Watters saw his penalty saved. O’Higgins built on this to dominate the game, and made the breakthrough with Jose Ignacio Garces scoring a rebound. The lead did not last long though, with Tom Leighton nodding home a long throw. The final whistle went, and Motherwell found themselves in 12th place with a win, draw, and loss apiece. This placed them in the Vase competition, in a semi-final against County Armagh.

It was a tight game that went all the way to penalties after neither side could make a breakthrough. And unfortunately, Motherwell were not able to come out on top, losing 5-4 to the Northern Irish side.

Partick meanwhile were looking to draw on their one win and one loss against the Zambian side, Lusaka Academy, who were yet to win. It was a game that almost never happened after a visa mix-up from the Zambians, which saw them sleep on the floor of Copenhagen Airport.

It looked like they might still be in a tiresome mood as Partick scored immediately through Ian Stokes. But Lusaka hit back through striker Jere, whose excellent touch took him round one man to beat the keeper. The sides went in at half time drawing, but Lusaka stated their intent almost immediately after the whistle. Kwalela sent in an excellent cross that was tapped in by Nsunzu to put the Zambians ahead.

Musakanya increased the gap between the two sides, firing in from outside the box. The game finished 3-1 and Partick ended up finishing 17th, having to compete for the Salver.

The first game of two in the Salver finals was against Higashi Fukuoka, and it finished 5-1 to the Glaswegians.

Andrew Petrie | YFS South East Region Journalist

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