ARGYLE’S Under-15s are still hopeful of attending the Northern Ireland SuperCup (formerly the Milk Cup) in August 2020.
Results in Northern Ireland are great but not as important as the valuable experience the young players obtain from being away from home, and for some, participating in real tournament football for the first time.
The youngsters really do get a taste of what it is like to be a professional footballer in a tournament that draws entrants from all over the world and provides them with an excellent standard of competitive football.
The real test for the youngsters is when they return to Home Park and how much they have learnt in preparation for a new season.
It’s brilliant to see that three Academy graduates have benefited from the prestigious tournament in Northern Ireland in 2014 & 2015. Luke Jephcott, Mike Cooper, Adam Randell have all been involved, on a regular basis, in the first0team squad this season.
Jephcott scored five goals in five games in the 2015 tournament and is now reproducing that form in the first-team, where he has scored seven times in 12 appearances.
Of the 18 that travelled to the SuperCup in 2019, five have played for the Under-18s, with Oscar Halls, Brandon Pursall, Carlo Garside, Oscar Massey and Will Jenkins-Davies frequently appearing in Youth Alliance games.
They have continued to raise a few eyebrows with their performances in the Under-15s Premier League Cup and will be eagerly awaiting a return to football to take on Fulham in the semi-finals of the Shield competition.
It seems a lot has happened since the youngsters commenced their campaign in a qualifying competition at Cheltenham in September of last year.
They played three games on that day starting with a 6-2 victory over hosts Cheltenham, with Jenkins-Davies notching four goals alongside a brace from Freddie Issaka.
An Oscar Halls hat-trick saw them beat Walsall 3-0 before a goaless draw with Portsmouth saw the young Pilgrims finish top to progress into the group stage of the competition.
Argyle were the only Category 3 Academy to reach the group stages and were drawn against Category 1 sides Southampton and Swansea City and Category 2 outfit Cardiff City.
Two goals from Jenkins-Davies was not enough to give Argyle victory in their first game as they lost 4-2 away to Cardiff and that was followed by a 5-2 defeat at Southampton where Issaka and Halls, from the penalty spot, were both on target.
Argyle's first points came when they travelled to Swansea to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Ryan Downing and Halls.
The euphoria of that victory was soon forgotten as they lost their first home game 4-1 against Cardiff with Jaydon Gilbert scoring their goal.
The New Year saw a revival in their fortunes with a credible 3-3 draw at home to Southampton ,with Jenkins-Davies, Jeffery Forkuo and Harvey Field Argyle's marksmen.
It was Field who headed the only goal of the game Argyle finished their group matches with a 1-0 success over Swansea at Home Park.
Argyle were then drawn away to Category One side West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League Shield but they were to produce one of the results of the competition as they beat the Baggies 3-1.
Field scored his third goal in as many games, with Downing and a Jenkins-Davies penalty setting up the semi-final meeting with Fulham.