The Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC Under 15 squad travelled to Spain last Monday to take part in the Iber Cup Costa Del Sol tournament. The games throughout the tournament took place in Marbella and Estepona with temperatures tipping 30 degrees during the matches. After attending the opening ceremony on Tuesday the boys were looking forward to the real action starting on Wednesday with two group matches scheduled.
They faced Hamkam CF from Spain in the opening fixture of the group and after an early goal from Aidan Wilson they settled down and passed in the ball well in the hot temperatures. Further goals from Ross Gunn, Wilson with a second and Kieran Chalmers gave them a comfortable 4-0 lead into half-time. Doubles from Roddy Kennedy and Lewis Mitchell in the second half gave the boys a resounding 8-0 victory.
Later that evening they took on Portuguese side Alta Lisboa UDAL and despite a sticky opening period they went on to triumph 3-0. Aidan Wilson opened the scoring in the first half and with better play coming in the second period, goals from Sean McWilliams and Roddy Kennedy sealed another three points.
The final group fixture was against CD Santa Julia from Spain and on a good astro surface the boys put on a good display. A first half double from Roddy MacGregor and a single strike by Daniel MacKay was added to in the second half by further goals from MacKay, Sean McWilliams and Aidan Wilson, with a late consolation goal the only thing the Spain side could muster.
After topping the group the boys faced another Portuguese side in GD Alcochetense in the quarter final on Friday morning with temperatures soaring on and off the pitch. Despite the provocative manner of the opposition the ICTFC's boys discipline was excellent. An early goal from Daniel MacKay settled the nerves and with late challenges flying in on the ICTFC boys they kept their cool to go in 1-0 up at the break. Just after the interval a stunning overhead kick from Roddy Kennedy from a Gabriel Hastings cross made it 2-0 and the opposition then found themselves down to 10 men after a succession of bad challenges. Ross Gunn popped up with late goal to make it a comfortable 3-0 victory.
Later the same day they travelled to a different venue for the semi-final against Spanish side Puerta Blanca CF. On an excellent grass pitch the boys found themselves 2-0 up with Daniel MacKay netting a fine double, however just on the stroke of half-time Puerta Blanca pulled a goal back from a 20 yard free kick. In a nervy second half the Spanish side netted an equaliser with twenty minutes left for play. Neither side could find a winner and the game went straight to penalties. After seven spot kicks each ICTFC went through 5-4 with goalkeeper Martin MacKinnon saving two kicks.
The final on Saturday morning took place at the Munoz Perez Stadium in Estepona and with a big crowd in the stands the boys took on SC Villa Maria from Argentina. In a cagey first half all of the good play came from ICTFC with the Argentineans getting lots of bodies behind the ball and sitting in. Once again the players showed good discipline against the late challenges and incidents off the ball. Finally the break through came eight minutes before the end when a foul on Aidan Wilson resulted in a penalty being awarded and up stepped Lewis Mitchell to slot past the goalkeeper into the net. The win was sealed right on the final whistle with Connor Bunce curling an excellent effort into the top corner after some fine play by Ronan McBride in midfield.
Captain Jack Brown lifted the trophy shortly afterwards to rapturous cheers and applause from the large number of parents and relatives in the stands, who had travelled out to support the boys.
All of the players put on impressive showings not only on the park but also off it, acting as great ambassadors for Inverness CTFC over the week.
Martin MacKinnon, Daniel Rae, Jack Brown, Liam McDade, Ryan Fyffe, Cameron Harper, Harry Nicolson, Lewis Mitchell, Daniel MacKay, Sean McWilliams, Aidan Wilson, Ross Gunn, Roddy MacGregor, Kieran Chalmers, Roddy Kennedy, Gabriel Hastings, Connor Bunce, Ronan McBride