BlueStars Day 2
Posted by nickogs20 on May 1, 2008
An early start for the Reds on the second day of the 2008 BlueStars, with tournament form team FC Basel the opponents at 10am this morning. The Swiss side took an early lead through striker Halimi and, despite sturdy United resistance for long periods, eventually won 3-0 (Halimi netting all three in the end), securing their place in the final game. United were left needing a win in their final group game to qualify for the 3rd/4th place playoff. The lineup vs Basel:
C Evans – Chester – Cathcart – Eckersley
Gray – Cleverley – Hewson – James – Stewart
Subs: Norwood (for Hewson 30), King (for Stewart 35)
That final group game was against Partizan Belgrade of Serbia, whose previous results included a 6-0 thrashing of Villarreal. A close, tense encounter was eventually decided in United’s favour by two goals in the five minutes before half-time from captain Sam Hewson and Daniel Galbraith.
Gray – Chester – Cathcart – Eckersley
Eikrem – Cleverley – Possebon – Hewson – Galbraith
Sub: King (for Eikrem)
Scorers: Hewson 15, Galbraith 20
Booked: Eckersley (suspended for next game)
And that result was indeed good enough to send the Reds through to the 3rd/4th place playoff (click here for the final group table), where they faced Germany’s Hamburg. It was another tight affair between two evenly-matched teams, and it took an inspired substitution from the management team of Jim Ryan and Paul McGuinness to swing the tie decisively United’s way. Norwegian schoolboy Joshua King was summoned from the bench with five minutes remaining to replace countryman Magnus Eikrem, and his first act was to poke home a predatory winner within a matter of seconds. 1-0 it finished, securing United a more-than-creditable third place finish.
Gray – Chester – Cathcart – Cleverley
Eikrem – Evans – Possebon – Hewson – Galbraith
Subs: Norwood (for Possebon 21), King (for Eikrem 35)
Scorer: King 35
In addition to the encouraging third-place finish, United also came away with the Fair Play Trophy – the BlueStars tournament places a heavy emphasis on this aspect of football and the Fair Play Trophy is awarded on the basis of the following criteria:
– Number of points in fair play ranking (1 per booking, 3 for an ‘indirect’ red card (i.e. two bookings), 4 per direct red card)
– General impression of the team delegation’s behaviour on and off the pitch.
– Sporting behaviour of the team on the principle of “fair and successful“, i.e. higher-placed teams with a low number of points in the fair play ranking will be classified higher.
The United lads picked up just three yellow cards in their five games (two for Richard Eckersley and one for Federico Macheda) and obviously represented the football club brilliantly on and off the field throughout the two days – something that will please the coaching staff every bit as much as the performances and third-place finish.
For reference, the full United party for the tournament (with squad numbers) was as follows:
1 Ron-Robert Zieler, 2 David Gray, 3 Richard Eckersley, 4 James Chester, 5 Craig Cathcart, 6 Sam Hewson (captain), 7 Tom Cleverley, 8 Rodrigo Possebon, 9 Federico Macheda, 10 Daniel Drinkwater, 11 Daniel Galbraith, 12 Cameron Stewart, 13 Ben Amos, 14 Matthew James, 15 Joshua King, 16 Magnus Eikrem, 17 Corry Evans, 18 Oliver Norwood
Back row (l-r): James, Eikrem, Cathcart, Chester, King, Rodrigo, Hewson, Macheda, Amos
Front row (l-r): Cleverley, Norwood, Stewart, Zieler, Evans, Gray, Galbraith, Eckersley