AFTER an incredibly difficult weekend for everyone connected to Torquay United, it was a very welcome relief to receive news that our Under-16s have reached the National Final of the JPL Cup.

Hosting Oxford City at Torquay Academy virtually at the same time our first-team were relegated from the National League, it was a fantastic display from the next generation of Gulls on a very warm day.

In an even opening 10 minutes, the deadlock was broken by an individual effort from Lewis Eaton, who ran from the halfway line to drill a left foot drive into the roof of the net. The game remained 1-0 to the home side until half time.

The second half started with a flurry of chances to United and the hard-working Harry Ford, but we could not convert them to goals. It wasn’t until midway through the half before United doubled their lead when Josh Baxter fired home following a goalmouth scramble after a corner.

Oxford immediately pulled one back to reduce the deficit, then a fantastic one-handed save by Jim Weeks prevented the equaliser. In the final couple of minutes, Olaf Koszela, who has recently been on trial with Swansea City, made it 3-1 to book Torquay United’s place in the final.

“It is a great achievement but now we must go one step further and win the trophy,” said Head Coach Chris Hogg. “The boys have played better this season but they dug in for the victory, and a proud day for all of us.

“The Under-16s have been a terrific all season and the vast majority are part of the football system at Torquay Academy, which bodes well for the future partnership between the school and football club.”