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Spurs Odyssey reflections on the Northern Ireland Milk Cup 2012
Courtesy of:- Ray Lo, and the Spurs List.

Ray Lo reflects on Spurs U-17s' experience in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup

The Spurs U-17 squad for the Northern Ireland Milk Cup tournament 2012

My first trip to the Northern Ireland Milk Cup has been an enjoyable excursion. While the team flew out, I travelled on the ferry from Liverpool, an eight hour trip. I went early and drove down into the Irish Republic for a couple of days before going to the first match in Portadown. The officials there were a little downbeat as news of the home club's 6-0 defeat in the 2nd round of the Europa League filtered in. The people were helpful and gave me the password to get online. Unfortunately it did not work. Thankfully my newly acquired smart phone allowed me to tweet an undate.

Coleraine FC for the third match had working Internet in the press box which kept me away from the coaching staff. The opening parade was a long drawn out affair with 50 teams and about 10 marching bands taking part. David Moyes was the guest speaker who opened proceedings. The tournament started early due to the Olympics but the parade still took place on the Sunday, in case you wondered.

The Spurs team looked very young and most were smaller than the Co. Armagh side they faced. In fact apart from Otago all the sides looked bigger than our boys. The Academy manager was in the dug-out but the team did not seem to have a set tactic of playing. The youngsters seemed to want to show off their individual skills. Instead of playing passes and moving into space, the midfielders would take the ball up to the opposition and dribble around him or let them come onto them before trying to get away. This is a common problem with the young lads until they step up to a higher level where the idea of passing to a team-mate and avoiding contact where possible take presidence. They also do not like to pass backwards and try an impossible forward pass when no one is open. This will change as they get older and I did see some improvement when Inglethorpe made an appearance.

There is plenty of skill in the squad. It just has to be applied properly. The teams that we faced in the tournament were never going to let us play the ball around them, using their extra size to prevent it. Only Otago gave Spurs any space and that, in my opinion, was our best team performance.

The coaching staff say that this squad will be better than the last. It does not look that way now. I saw better organised teams playing in the junior tournament. What I did see was that Oduwa seemed to be able to get past anyone. Georgiou looked okay on the left flank and Walkes did a good job sitting in front of the back four. Priestley was good in goal and the best Spurs player of the tournament was Ogilvie (Ed:- He is a Young England International).

The Spurs U-17 team line up for their game against South Coast Strikers

Spurs were the better side against Co. Armagh; but were beaten by a counter-attacking Strikers side who had a good finisher. Otago were not a big team and allowed our midfield space to play. Moscow were tough and should have scored more, while Co. Londonderry competed well, but as in the first game were not good enough.

The overall winners were Desportivo of Brazil who beat Newcastle in the final. Bolton came third, The Strikers were sixth. Man Utd came seventh; Moscow 9th; Co.Armagh 18th, and Otago last.

Ray

Here are Ray's previous reports on this tournament:-

Spurs youngsters to take part in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup
Co. Armagh 1 Spurs (U-17s) 1 - Spurs' penalty miss costs two points
Spurs (U-17s) 1 South Coast Strikers 7 - Spurs' lads trounced
Spurs (U-17s) 4 Otago 0- Alex at the helm!
Spurs (U-17s) 1 CSKA Moscow 2 - Russian strength wins it
Spurs (U-17s) 2 Co. Londonderry 1 - Spurs boys win their 3rd/4th place final

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