It was a productive and fruitful half-term for Cardiff City’s U15 side, travelling to Lubin, Poland to take part in the KGHM International Cup. This competition saw the Cardiff City Academy test themselves against Professional Football Academy setups from across Europe.
On opening day (Saturday, 4th June), the young Bluebirds squad got off to a positive start, coming from behind to defeat Hungarian side Budapest Honvéd FC, with Sion Spence scoring from the penalty spot as well as netting a superb 20-yard strike.
City were soon in action once again, facing off against Slovak Super Liga winners AS Trenčín. Midfielder Spence hit his third goal of the tournament, and second winner after a fine pass from Keenan Patten. Cavan Williams also scoring during this 2-1 victory.
At the end of Day One, Cardiff City faced Eredivisie side ADO Den Haag in what turned out to be a game of the tournament contender. Den Haag took a half-time lead with two quick goals either side of a smart Cavan Williams finish. The second half was finely balanced, but a late surge from the young Bluebirds saw the team score three goals in the final seven minutes to secure victory. Kieron Evans pulled the game level with a stunning volley before late strikes from Harry Gidman and Harry Pinchard put Cardiff joint top of the group going into the final day.
Looking to build on their first day successes, City U15 competed against the highly rated hosts KGHM Zagłębie Lubin. A tight battle commenced in the blistering heat, with Keenan Patten heading home the only goal in a composed team performance in difficult circumstances.
This win meant City’s U15 side would need just a draw from their final fixture to bring the trophy back to South Wales, but a stylish performance and 7-0 win against FK Ústí nad Labem of the Czech Republic ensured a 100% win record. Isaak Davies netting a brace, with Daniel John, Connor Davies, Jac Davies, Cavan Williams and Mitchell Osmond also getting on the score-sheet in this crucial match.
It was celebration time for the young Bluebirds soon after, with captain Sam Bowen collecting the KGHM International Trophy on behalf of the team. The awards didn’t stop there though as George Ratcliffe was named ‘Goalkeeper of the Tournament’ following some fine individual performances. While already an admirable achievement, this honour is even more impressive as the young Bluebirds shot stopper was making his return from a broken leg.
Lead Youth Development Coach, Dane Facey, shared his thoughts on an inspiring weekend, stating: “These life-changing experiences are sure to play an important part in the successful development of the Academy players involved. Playing foreign opposition, adapting to different climates and adjusting to a variety of styles of play on the continent can only help improve our players. The players have represented our programme with the Cardiff City passion and were deserved winners of the KGBM trophy.”
Cardiff City Academy Manager James McCarthy added: “This achievement highlights the undoubted quality that we have at our disposal within the Academy from both a player and staff aspect. To go to a foreign country and play in difficult conditions with such success is testament to this also. We are always looking to add value to the Academy experience for the players and trips like this to test them against good foreign opposition helps us to do just that. To leave as champions makes the visit to Poland all the more worthwhile as the players are at a stage of their development where they need to recognise the importance of winning football matches. Everyone at the Academy is extremely proud of the group’s achievement.”
KGHM International Cup 2016
Cardiff City U15 Squad: Sam Bowen, Connor Davies, Isaak Davies, Jac Davies, Kieron Evans, Harry Gidman, Daniel John, Owen Orford, Mitchell Osmond, Sam Parsons, Harry Pinchard, George Ratcliffe, Sion Spence, Cavan Williams.
Saturday, 4th June 2016
Cardiff City 2-1 Budapest Honvéd FC (Spence 2)
Cardiff City 2-1 AS Trenčín (Spence, Williams)
Cardiff City 4-2 ADO Den Haag (Williams, Evans, Gidman, Pinchard)
Sunday, 5th June 2016
Cardiff City 1-0 KGHM Zagłębie Lubin (Patten)
Cardiff City 7-0 FK Ústí nad Labem (I. Davies 2, Williams, Osmond, J. Davies, John, C. Davies)