Cup heartache for U13 girls football team

7th March 2018

English Schools cup semi final at NationalThe dream is over for our Under 13 girls football team, as they just fell short in their English Schools cup semi-final here at the academy today (Wednesday 7 March 2018).

Facing St Peters Catholic School from Solihull, who had defeated last year’s winners in their quarter final, this match was always going to be a tough hurdle, and the game started off in frenetic style. It was National who forced the first chance of the game after the initial flow of the game settled into a midfield dogfight – a long ball forward towards the St Peters box was not dealt with effectively and our right-winger Charlotte charged down the attempted clearance, with the ball spinning wildly across the goalmouth and striking the base of the post as National came within a lick of paint of opening the scoring.

Following this scare, St Peters settled into a rhythm with their hugely impressive central midfielder taking the game by the scruff of the neck. After National had defended stoutly, a corner was only partially cleared and one of the girls from Solihull managed to fire the ball home from close range to give St Peters a 1-0 lead. Shortly after it was 2-0 after the ball broke in midfield and the St Peters right midfielder curled home an opportunist long-range goal from just outside her own half! A moment of inspiration that however would quickly be surpassed as the goal of the game.

The midfield battle was quickly becoming a tale of two number 5’s as National’s Millie T and her St Peters rival attempted to drive their respective teams forward. It was the Solihull number 5 who showed off her class to extend the St Peters lead however, picking the ball up on the halfway line, jinking past three challenges and smashing a bullet of a shot in off the inside of the post – a goal truly worthy to grace any semi-final match!

Despite the scoreline, it was not all one-way traffic, and National were unlucky not to get back in the game as Millie T brought a great save out of the St Peters’ goalkeeper who then smothered the follow up from Charlotte. A dipping volley over the top of the goal was the last meaningful action of the first half, and Miss Hall grouped the girls together at the break for a pep talk, with a switch at the break following a broken finger for one of the National girls.

As the second-half kicked off, the National girls showed their mettle and started to express themselves, playing some great football and demonstrating why they are one of the top 4 teams in the country for their age-group. Paige and Charlotte were having some joy down the right wing, with a number of great runs, and it was this combination which led to National pulling a goal back. Paige pressured the St Peters centre-half, nicking the ball off her, flicking to Charlotte who slipped it into the path of the hard-working Mia who smashed a rising shot into the St Peters net from the edge of the box to bring National back into the game at 3-1.

The game then moved from end to end, with both goalkeepers making saves and being very positive with their decisions, until St Peters wrapped the game up in style. Again, it was their number 5 who won the ball, evaded the challenges of three National defenders before slipping past the advancing goalkeeper to effectively finish the game at 4-1.

Credit to the National girls who never gave up trying, with Mille T hitting a long-range effort agonisingly close and Paige flashing a header wide from a corner, but the referee signalled the end of the game, with the St Peters girls and their army of travelling supporters into wild celebrations!

Miss Hall said of her team, ‘Despite today’s defeat, my girls can hold their heads up high. They have reached the final four teams in England in this competition, and still have a chance of silverware in the Notts Cup, where they are also at the semi-final stage. As a growing and developing team, they have shown great resilience, desire, talent and togetherness on this cup run – all of the staff who have worked with them are so proud of their achievements.

We would like to wish the girls from St Peters all the very best for the rest of their season, and good luck as they advance to the final. They are a very talented team, and we would like to see them go on and win the competition now!’