Last weekend was another busy one for Torquay United’s stars of the future, as our youth sides were in action across the age groups.

On Saturday, Our U8s and U9s both secured handsome victories against their Ottery St Mary counterparts. A dominant 16-3 victory was confirmed for the U8s with strikes from Keano (5), Man Of The Match George (3), Miko (3), Waller (2), Alex, Sonny and Ethan. Our U9s replicated this success, scoring over 25 goals in the process. In a team full of impressive performers, Tom Budd was adjudged to be the star performer on the day.

Sunday meanwhile, saw a challenge of an entirely different nature as our youngsters faced up to Bristol City’s Academy sides at Stoke Gabriel FC. All age groups emerged with great credit against quality opponents.

Our 8s were back in action and faced perhaps the toughest of tests, going up against City’s talented U9s side. Although the team from Bristol were comfortable 14-1 victors on the day, it was an excellent experience for the group and one which they will no doubt benefit from.

Our U9s also returned to the field for the second time hours, competing in two matches against their City opponents. The first encounter ended in an admirable 1-4 defeat, with Thomas Ross notching a penalty for United. The Robins triumphed 5-0 in the second game, with a special mention going out to United ‘keeper Olly McCarthy-Payne for some superb saves.

The U13s’ clash was a very tight encounter. City opened the scoring but United replied quickly with Leo Driscoll’s effort deflecting into the net off Finley Wood. The Gulls took a stunning lead in the second quarter with Henry Munyago setting up Olly Belotti to fire home. A combination of resolute defending, and fine goalkeeping from Lewis Vinson and Max Weeks, helped keep the lead intact until late in the third quarter when a penalty levelled the scores once again. Unfortunately a number of injuries hampered Torquay in the final quarter, and City eventually secured a 3-2 win.

The U14s began the match against City in impressive fashion, taking a 3-1 half-time lead with goals from Sam Bishop and Callum Nightingale (2). United also missed a penalty, but after the interval City began to take charge. After making a number of substitutions, they eventually scored late goals to turn the game on it’s head. The Gulls though, should take great credit for pushing their opponents all the way.

Our U14s also competed against a City U13 side, in a match somewhat dictated by injuries and absence. After beginning the match with only 10 players (including two ‘keepers), United fell a goal behind in the first quarter. Although Sean Brown was unlucky not to equalise moments later, the task got even more difficult for the Gulls in the second period. Injuries to two players reduced their numbers even further, and two more City strikes left them with a mountain to climb at the halfway point. To balance the match numerically, three Bristol substitutes joined the Gulls, however this failed to stem the flow of goals and Torquay succumbed to defeat in difficult circumstances. A special mention though goes to goalkeeper Jack Grant, who made some excellent stops before venturing outfield later in the game.

The matches against Bristol City’s academy sides were the culmination of months of hard work from Head of Youth Dave Hedges and his staff, and he was delighted with the results.

“It was the first time, and went really well. They need to go against kids that are doing it, that are quicker, and a great day was had by all.”

Hedges is hoping to arrange more academy fixtures in the future, and our youngsters can only benefit from this.