As the season reaches its climax games are coming thick and fast. The Under 18 boys played Shropshire on Mondat night at Thomas Telford and again suffering from late withdrawls, they drew 3-3 being pegged back in injury time having fought back to lead 3-2 from a two goal defecit. They will be attempting to match last seasons group on Monday 30th at Brocton FC when they are involved in a MCF semi final when they will host Nottinghamshire SFA with a 7-00pm KO. Admission willbe £3 for adults and £1 concessions.
On the same night at Stafford Town the Under 14 and 16 boys Individual Schools Cup Finals will be taking place with Trentham School being involved in both games. The Under 14 game kicking off at 5-15pm against John Taylor Acdemy from Burton and District and then the Under 16's play Rawlett Academy from Tamworth kicking off at 6-45pm.
Admission to the games is £2 for adults and £1 concessions.
On Tuesday night the girls take centre stage when the Under 15 and 16 finals take place, again at Stafford Town FC. TheUnder 15 final, starting at 5-15pm will feature Kingsmead School fom Cannock who will play Alleynes High School from Uttoxeter whilst the Under 16 final will feature Blythe Bridge HS and De Ferrers Academy, this tie kicking off at 6-45pm. Admission charges are as for the boys finals.
Wednesday sees the Under 12 final being played at Oldfields Hall School in Uttoxeter where de Ferrers Academy will play Blythe Bridge with a 4-15 KO.
In a game of two contrasting halves Staffordshire took the three points on offer for their Midland Counties Federation fixture winning by 4-2. Freya Sammon manged the Staffordshire side in the absence of coach David Ebberson, aided by Kieran Newey and did an excellent job of leading the girls to their victory.
From the kick off Worcestershire attacked and almost scored, Staffordshire conceding a corner. After clearing the corner Staffordshire mustered their first attack and only good defending prevented an early breakthrough. The first goal was scored by Staffordshire in a breakaway and Shev Watson showed the Worcestershire defence a clean pair of heels and cooly slotted the ball past the keeper.Within five minutes the lead was doubled when a delightful cross was met by Lois Brindley at the back post who volleyed past a helpless guardian.
Not to be outdone, Worcestershire who always posed a threat going forward replied with a goal of their own but Staffordshire's two goal advantage was restablished when Emma Birch stabbed the ball home from close range. A Hannah Hampton goal added to the Staffordshire lead and at the break they looked like comfortable winners.
The second half was a complete contrast and Worcestershire set about Staffordshire by playing some good football and this linked to their superior strength and size caused the Staffs back line major problems. Worcestershire hit both posts and the Staffordshire keeper pulled off two fantastic close range saves before Worcestershire reduced the deficit. Staffordshire clung on and now lead the MCF table with an unbeaten record.The game was a credit to both sides and the crowd were treated to a feast of excellent football.
It was with a great sense of pride that I travelled to Dublin to watch three Staffordshire girls play for England in an Under 15 Invitation International against the Republic of Ireland at Home Farm FC, close to the centre of Dublin. On arrival at the ground it was great news to hear that all three girls were in the starting line up, Hannah Hampton in goal, Anna King at right back and Phoebe Warner in midfield. The girls attend Kingsmead School, Wolgarston School and Ounsdale respectively.
The game started in glorious sunshine, on a pitch showing signs of wear making ball control and passing difficult. England dominated possession from the off and the Irish were content to put bodies behind the ball, no doubt remembering the hiding from the match at Maidstone last season. Neither side provided a threat in the early stages with possession changing hands all too frequently, much to the frustrtion of management and spectators alike.
England gained an early corner which the Irish cleared without too many problems and England were becoming frustrated at their lack of penetration due to the massed Irish defence. The first real incident ocurred after 20 minutes when England skipper Niamh Cashin was injured in a tackle and was unable to continue. Anna King was handed the captains armband , another piece of history in the annals of Staffordshire Schools football.
Miri Taylor the substitute had an immediate impact playing a delightful throughball to Maddy Brant but she was unable to fashion a cross and the ball went out for a goal kick. Keeper Hannah Hampton was called into action to deal with several hopeful crosses as the Irish at last ventured out of their shells. The first half drew to a close without either goal ever being seriously threatened and the teams headed in at the break to listen to words of wisdom from the management team.
England made several changes at half time and they started very brightly with Molly Pike adding pace and power down the right flank which allowed the midfield craft of Phoebe Warner and Miri Taylor to come into play. England began to ask the Irish backline some serious questions and it seemed that it would only be a matter of time before England crafted a good enough opening to open the scoring. However the Irish girls were resolute in defence and despite constant probing they held fast until a piece of magic from Miri Tayloe allowed her to find space and she found the bottom corner of the net, beating the despairing dive of the Irish guardian in the 51st minute. England a goal to the good.
The Irish responded well and had a goal chalked off in the 60th minute when the assistant referee signalled that the ball had gone out of play from a corner before being bundled into the England net. Replacement keeper Jenny Myler made a fingertip save in what proved to be the Irish girls final effort and Phoebe Warner was denied by the crossbar in the dying seconds which would have given a scoreline more in keeping with the possession stats.
Full England Internationals Rachel Finnis Brown (Goalkeeping Coach ) and Ambassador Rachel Yankee, who have almost two hundred England caps between them, were extremely impressed with the overall performance of the girls and are looking forward to being involved and helping the girls in their quest to retain the Bob Doherty trophy, a British Isles Tournament, which takes place after Easter in Glasgow.
The photographs below show Anna and Phoebe with England Legends Racel Yankee and Rachel Finnis Brown,Hannah and Anna in action and the England squad singing the national anthem
Staffordshire Under 14 Girls entertain Worcestershire on Monday 23rd of March at Stafford town FC kick off at 7-00pm.
There will be an admission charge of £3 for adults and £1 concessions.
Players named below are asked to report at 6-00pm and the usual dress code applies.
The first individual schools'cup finals took place at Stafford Town FC last night. First up was St Margaret Ward from Stoke on Trent against Repton representing Burton and District Schools FA in the final of the Under 15 cup.
Repton started brightly and put SMW under early pressure but it was the Stoke team who led when a cross was clipped home leaving the Repton keeper helpless. SMW doubled their lead midway through the half and struck for a third time within minutes of the whistle which would signal the end of the first half. 3-0 was not a scoreline that refelected the possession stats but Repton were in danger of a mauling.
Repton came out in the second half of the game and produced a display full of grit and determination. They pulled a goal back and despite creating several half chances resolute defensive work from the SMW back four ensured that the trophy was heading to the Potteries.
Three Staffordshire girls will be on the plane to Dublin as members of ESFA England Under 15's squad on Friday.
Anna King from Wolgarston, Hannah Hampton from Kingsmead and Phoebe Warner from Ounsdale will be playing against the Republic of Ireland on Saturday at Home Farm FC. We wish them all well.
The Under 16 Boys and Under 15 Boys have finished their programmes in the Midland Counties leagues. The Under 18 boys topped the West section and play Nottinghamshire in the semi final at Brocton FC on the 30th of March 7-00pm KO. They will take on Shropshire at Thomas Telford the week before as preparation for the game, again with a 7-00pm KO.
The Under 16 girls still have to play Shropshire in the group stages of the competition but currently lie level on points and goal difference with Worcestershire so a draw will see them top the group for the third year in a row.They will in all probability have a home game against Derbyshire in the semi finals of the MCF with the winners taking on Worcestershire or Notts in the final.
The Under 14 Boys still have the West Midlands and Shropshire to play, both home games and the Under 14 Girls already have Worcestershire at home and away arranged leaving a home fixture against Shropshire to organise.
The Individual school cups.
Staffordshire travelled to the Moorways Athletic stadium in Derby to take on Derbyshire in their final Midland Federation match. manager gary Spruce has seen his side grow in confidence throughout the season and with largely the same group of players they have made giant strides. From being the whippng boys of the competition last season suffering several heavy defeats, the boys have shown what good players they are but more importantly wht strong characters they are.
On a dry and bumpy pitch on which ball control was difficult Staffordshire started well and moved the ball around denying Derbyshire early possession so it was disappointing that in their first serious attack Derbyshire won a corner from a long throw, that being their main threat all game, and a terrible mix up in the Staffordshire defence allowed the ball to be poked home from close range.
Undeterred Staffordshire continued to play with zest and verve and their short passing game was a joy to watch. However Staffordshire were caught cold a second time when a long ball was not dealt with and the ball bounced kindly for the Derbyshire centre forward, who miscontrolled the ball but it fell to a colleague, who looked suspiciously offside, and he rammed the ball home from six yards.
Last season heads would have dropped but Staffordshire stuck to their principles of trying to play possession football and were rewarded for their efforts just before half time when Brad Eddington finished off a flowing move which started in the Staffordshire half.
Staffordshire equalised early in the second half when Jacob Dunning stabbed the ball home from close range following a corner. Play ebbed and flowed and became a little disjointed as substitutes from both sides were introduced and when the final whistle blew2-2 was the score.
Staffordshire U18 Boys will play Shropshire next Monday 23rd of March. The game will take place at Thomas Telford School on the 3G pitch with a 7-00pm KO
This will act as perfect preparation for the MCF semi final game against Nottinghamshire Schools which will take place at Brocton FC on Monday 30th of March with a 7-00pm start. Staffordshire topped the Western Group of the Midland Counties federation for the second year in a row.
Managers Mark Culverhouse and Greg Valentine will name the squad later this week.
The Under 14 Boys travelled to Warwickshire still looking for their first victory in the MCF competition.Against a Warwickshire side who earned a draw in Staffordshire's home game and had comprehensively beaten Shropshire last time out there was reason for a degree of trepidation.
Any fears were were soon dispelled and an excellent team performance with goals from Hall, Bromfield, Mallen, Johnson and Pegg to two replies from Warwickshire left Staffordshire as comfortable winners.
This should hold them in good stead for their last two home fixtures against West Midlands and Shropshire.
All games at Stafford Town FC
U15 Boys Repton v St Margaret Ward or Westwood HS
U 18 Boys Repton v Codsall
Under 16 Boys Trentham HS v Painsley or Rawlett
Under 14 Boys Trentham HS v John Taylor Academy
Under 15 Girls Kingsmead v Thomas Alleyne's Uttoxeter
Under 16 Girls De Ferrers or Painsley v Wolgarston or Blyth Bridge
Under 13 Girls Blythe Bridge or Landau Forte Amington v Painsley/DeFerrers or Perton Middle/Graham Balfour
Under 13 Boys St Edwards Middle v Wilnecote or King Edward VI Stafford
Under 12 Boys De Ferrers v Blythe Bridge at a venue to be decided
The first games will kick off at 5-15pm and the second games at 6-45/7-00pm
There will be an entrance charge of £2 for Adults and £1 concessions.
The Under 16 Girls final has 3 semi finalists and Wolgarston will take on Blythe bridge whilst De Ferrers await the winner of Painsley and Westwood. These games have to be played before the 5th of March. The Under 15 Girls have a finalist where Alleynes Uttoxeter will play the winners of Sir Thomas Boughy and Kingsmead. The final girls competition the Under 13's have one semi finalist. Games here will be decided on the toss of a coin unless there is some prompt action next week.
In the U18 boys competition Codsall await the winners of the Painsley/Repton tie whilst in the Under 16 Boys Trentham play John Taylor whilst Rawlett will playt the winners of Painsly and Biddulph which has to be played next week. The under 15 semi final involve Painsley against Repton and St Margaret Ward will play Excel Academy or Westwood, another game that must be played next week.
At under 14 John Taylor are waiting for the winners of Trentham and Sir Graham Balfour and in the Under 13 competition St Edwards Middle School from Leek will play the winners of the game between King Edward VI Stafford and Wilnecote. Last but not least De Ferrers Academy await either Blythe Bridge or Clayton.
Teams are reminded to look at the rules and the codes of conduct as there have been several complaints this season. It is hoped that almost all finals will be played before the Easter break.
Staffordshire Under 16 Girls made their exit from the ESFA national cup to Cheshire by the narrowest of margins, losing 5-4 on penalties after the game finished tied at 1-1 after extra time.
Cheshire were physically very strong and a well drilled talented team who started strongly and dominated early possession. Staffordshire were without international and playmaker Phoebe Warner through injury but the girls gave an outstanding defensive display with many of the squad having not only the best game of their season but in some cases the best game for their County.
Cheshire showed their early intent and went close but a sprawling save from kepper Hollie Nelson kept the scores level. However minutes later she was beaten by a cross shot after Cheshire breached the Staffordshire back line. Staffordshire then had to defend stoutly to prevent a further deficit but the back line of Hannah Price Alex Buck and Ria Elsmore, marshalled by skipper Holly Gibson held firm.
In a sporadic attack Staffordshire found themselves level when an inswinging corner from Paighton Rowbathan was not dealt with and Ellie Bruton stabbed home the loose ball. 1-1 at half time.
In the second half Staffordshire were again under pressure for long periods but seldom looked as though they would concede a goal with Anna King marking the Cheshire Under 17 England International out of the game. The midfield players chased, harried and blocked all that came at them and at the final whistle the scores were locked at 1-1.
Extra time saw Staffordshire create good chances as did Cheshire but as the final whistle blew the score remained tied at 1-1 and penalties beckoned. Unfortunately Staffordshire missed with one of their spot kicks to give Cheshire a home tie in the semi final against Lancashire.
The Stafffordshire girls will now concentrate on trying to win the Midland Counties Trophy for the first time in their history.