Torquay United U16s were valiant in defeat as they went down 1-0 to Newcastle East End in the Junior Premier League National Cup Final at Vale Park.

A second half goal put pay to United’s dreams of clinching the Cup, but the team and the coaching staff can be very proud of the effort they put in on the day. In boxing terminology it would have been a split decision against the best side they have played this season.

Despite the defeat, the experience and the exposure to the attending scouts from the Premier League and EFL will have given the team a taste of what the future could hold for them.

One of United’s best opportunities came in the opening five minutes of the first half. Just after United ‘keeper James Weeks had stopped a Newcastle attack, United went close to scoring from a corner. It was a great chance at the near post but it went begging.

United skipper Harry Ford then nicked the ball from Newcastle as they attempted to play out from the back. He found Olaf Koszela who lifted the ball over the bar.

That was followed by United being unable to convert amidst a chaotic scramble inside Newcastle’s penalty box.

Newcastle then had one great chance to convert on the angle before United ended the half with another shot on goal that just eluded the target.

The woodwork was to frustrate both teams during the game and so it was in the early part of the second half. United were the first ones to strike the woodwork, followed by Newcastle, then United went straight up the other end and striker Olaf Koszela was frustrated once again by the frame of the goal.

United surged forward in search of an equalizer but it wasn’t to be. They can surely hold their heads up high after such a mammoth effort.

For a side who were only put together eight months ago, the U16 squad have had a terrific run in the league, and put in a sterling effort in the Cup. General manager Geoff Harrop is rightly proud of their effort and character he saw on show at Vale Park.

“How it wasn’t 10-9 is beyond me,” said Geoff after the game. “We’ve hit the post three times, they struck it twice. The team were a credit to the football club, first and foremost because of the effort they showed, but also because of the way they played their passing game. It was a great showcase for under 16 football.

“We couldn’t of asked anymore of the players today. Their parents have also contributed a great deal; it has been a tremendous effort from everyone. We were complimented by many people that work in the game after the match. They couldn’t believe that we had only been in operation for 8 months.

“There is certainly optimism for the future of our development system. The younger age groups can look at the great season the U16s have had and try to match, or go one better. This is the start of many productive years at TUFC.”

Thank you to the players, and the families that have helped the team get this far. Also, to the fans that supported the team at the match which included Lifetime President Thea Bristow and avid United fan, Paul Bastard.

Torquay United U16s Squad: James Weeks, Josh Atkinson, Charlie Miller, Josh Baxter, Joe Whitehead, Ewan Howarth, Josh Parry, Kane Pook, Lewis Eaton,Harry Ford (Captain), Olaf Koszela, Kyan Tandy, Harrison Beer, Calun Wilkes, Toby Edmundson, Calum Fyfe