Fourteen EFL academies have played their final matches of this year’s LFE trips. In Spain, three sides were protecting unbeaten records, while in the Netherlands, two teams participated in the Volendam Tournament and four took part in the SP Lochem U19 Tournament.
Bolton Wanderers 1 – 0 Málaga CF
Bolton recorded their first win in Spain after a battling performance against Málaga CF. Demarlio Brown-Sterling’s first-half opener proved to be enough for the tourists as they held firm to maintain a clean sheet and seal a positive end to the trip.
Bury 4 – 0 Marbella FC
The young Shakers struck four for the second game in a row to complete an unbeaten trio of results in Spain. Callum Dolan broke the deadlock before Joe Adams netted his second goal in successive matches. Adams then turned provider when his cut-back allowed Dolan to double his tally, while Adams’ individual run and finish added further gloss to an impressive Bury performance.
Millwall 0 – 6 Real Madrid U17s
Despite the disappointing scoreline, Millwall Under-18s enjoyed a fantastic experience in playing against Real Madrid’s latest group of starlets, which included Zinedine Zidane’s son Theo. Three goals in each half saw the hosts cruise to victory, while Millwall’s best chance to a consolation strike fell to Harry Taylor, whose first-time shot was parried away following some clever skill on the right flank from Jay Barton.
MK Dons 0 – 5 Atlético Madrid
MK Dons Under-18s were undone by a strong Atleti side having initially made a promising start to the game. The young Dons played on the front foot and went toe-to-toe with the Spanish giants until three goals in seven minutes left them shell-shocked, with two-long range hits and a cross from deep that drifted over keeper Alfie Jones into the net proving to be their downfall before the break. The visitors forced several corners in the second-half, but were unable to create a clearcut chance and eventually ran out of steam in the latter stages, conceding two more goals.
Morecambe 1 – 1 Real Betis
Morecambe’s fairytale stay in Spain continued with another stunning display to hold La Liga academy Real Betis to a 1-1 draw. After two wins against Jerez Deportivo and UD Tomares, the Shrimps teenagers ensured they would return home unbeaten as Amilcar Codjovi found the net to seal a famous result for the team.
Norwich City 2 – 0 AD Nervion
Norwich’s youngsters capped off their trip with a solid performance to see off AD Nervion. The Canaries ended their wait for a victory in Spain thanks to two first-half goals, with striker Josh Guirgi notching the first by guiding a cross from the right into the net, while a superb team move ended with Guirgi’s effort rebounding to Isak Thorvaldsson, who kept his composure to double the advantage.
Birmingham City 1 – 0 NAC Breda U19s
Birmingham City Under-18s produced a much-improved performance to claim their first victory in the Netherlands with a narrow 1-0 win against NAC Breda Under-19s. The cagey affair remained goalless for 80 minutes without much goalmouth action as both defences stayed resolute. However, the Blues finally found a way in front when a great run from Lucas Powell left the opposition on the back foot as he surged into the area and rolled the ball past the outstretched keeper.
Rochdale 1 – 1 NAC Breda U17s
Rochdale’s academy side came from behind to draw 1-1 with NAC Breda Under-17s as Fabio Tavares netted his third goal of the trip. Dale had a goal disallowed for offside and four minutes later found themselves 1-0 down, but they responded with half an hour remaining through Tavares, who pinched the ball past the keeper before slotting the ball into an empty net.
Grimsby Town 2 – 0 FC Volendam U19s
Portsmouth 4 – 0 Fortuna Sittard U19s
Portsmouth 3 – 1 FC Volendam U19s
Grimsby Town 0 – 0 Fortuna Sittard U19s
Grimsby Town 1 – 0 Portsmouth
Portsmouth and Grimsby Under-18s both starred in the Zilveren Botter Tournament to see off Fortuna Sittard and holders FC Volendam. The young Mariners kicked off the competition with an impressive 2-0 victory over hosts Volendam, with Kyle Richardson scoring in each half. Pompey followed that up with an even more convincing 4-0 win against Fortuna Sittard, before seeing off Volendam 3-1 to put them in the driving seat for the trophy due to the tournament’s rule of earning a point for each goal scored. Grimsby’s goalless draw in their second match left them requiring a six-goal margin to leapfrog Portsmouth, which they were unable to achieve, although they did claim a 1-0 victory thanks to Rumarn Burrell’s strike to ensure they remained unbeaten without conceding a goal throughout the trip. Meanwhile, Pompey secured top spot and enjoyed further success as Stan Bridgman picked up the Player of the Tournament award having led the goalscoring charts.
Leeds United 0 – 0 Willem II
Sheffield United 2 – 1 De Graafschap
Leeds United 2 – 1 Newport County
Crewe Alexandra 0 – 1 Sheffield United
Sheffield United 2 – 1 SP Lochem
Leeds United 3 – 2 De Graafschap
Newport County p4 – 4 SP Lochem
Crewe Alexandra 3 – 0 Go Ahead Eagles
Leeds United 1 – 0 De Graafschap
Sheffield United 1 – 0 Willem II
Four English academies contested the eight-team SP Lochem Under-19 competition, which resulted in Sheffield United’s youngsters claiming silverware. The Blades won every game on their way to lifting the trophy, while Leeds United finished third having missed out on a place in the final on goal difference, Crewe Alexandra sealed fifth and Newport County triumphed in a penalty shootout to come seventh.
United kicked off their campaign with a 2-1 win against De Graafschap thanks to Reon Potts’ penalty and Jake Kelly’s winner. Leeds were held by eventual finalists Willem II before registering their first victory against Newport, with Lucas Odunston and Charlie Cresswell getting on the scoresheet. In another battle of the English clubs, Sheffield United came out on top against Crewe, with Sam Ackroyd scoring the only goal, and he was again the hero to send the Blades into the final as he grabbed the winner against SP Lochem. Crewe cruised to a 3-0 victory against Go Ahead Eagles to secure fifth spot, while Newport avoided last place after an incredible encounter with hosts Lochem, eventually winning on penalties after a remarkable 4-4 draw in normal time.
Leeds’ tournament ended on a high despite having to settle for third position as Niall Huggins’ late effort separated the two sides, while Sheffield United took the glory thanks to a 12th-minute strike from first-year apprentice Zak Brunt.