The curtain came down on the Staffordshire season in a disappointing fashion with a 6-1 mauling for the Under 18 boys against national champions Humberside in the final of the MCF cup. The game played in Nottinghamshire on a beautiful evening started brightly for Staffordshire who, after a defensive mix up, led inside the first five minutes.
Five minutes later Humberside were level when a harsh penalty was awarded and minutes later it was three one after two disastrous defensive errors. Humberside went further ahead with a well taken goal to leave Staffordshire a mountain to climb just to maintain a semblance of respectability.
To their credit Staffordshire responded well and gave a far better account of themselves in the second half but two goals in the final minute gave the score a lopsided look as the Staffordshire boys had responded to their management teams urgings in the second half.
The positives to be taken out of the game were that the Stafffordshire squad were very inexperienced at County level and 13 of the eighteen players are available next season.
The Under 18 Boys bid to emulate the girls teams by retaining their MCF crown when they meet Humberside SFA in the MCF final on Thursday in Nottingham. This will be a tough test as Humberside are the national Champions but the Staffordshire boys will provide a real test if they play to their true potential.
The game is being played at the poplars sports ground in Burton Joyce with a 6-15 KO, Postcode is NG14 5AN
Manager mark Culverhouse has named the following squad for the game;
Staffordshire Team to be selected from: School/College
GK BRANDON McELENY King Edwards VI – Stafford
2 ALEX RUSSON Codsall High
3 BEN DOUGLAS Stafford College
4 GEORGE DIXON Stafford College
5 KALUM BETTS Codsall High
6 OLIVER RITCHIE Thomas Alleynes
7 KEENAN POWELL Stafford College
8 MALAKI NORFORD Stafford College
9 WILL CARNEY (Capt) Thomas Alleynes
10 MACAULEY ROWE Moorlands 6th Form
11 JACK ALEXANDER MMU
12 CALLUM STREET King Edwards VI – Lichfield
14 RYAN NESBITT Stafford College
15 JACOB CAMPBELL Moorlands 6th Fom
16 FLETCHER RUSHTON Painsley
17 ALBIE HILTON JONES Endon
18 JOE MINToN University Academy Kidsgrove
GK STEVEN O'SULLIVAN King Edwards VI - Lichfield
Staffordshire Under 16 Girls followed closely in the footsteps of their Under 14 counterparts with a resounding victory over Derbyshire in the final of the MCF to bring down the curtain on what has been an outstanding season for the girls. They played nine games and the only defeat came at the hands of Cheshire in the quarter final of the ESFA Trophy, and that after extra time and penalties.
The final took place at South Normanton FC on lovely spring evening in front of an enthusiastic crowd. Staffordshire attacked from the start and it was clear from an early stage that it would be a hard night for the Derbyshire girls. After a series of raids Anna King arrived late in the box to see a wonderful header smack the crossbar and rebound to safety. The precise delivery from Holly Gibson was repeated five minutes later but this time the Derbyshire keeper made an error of judgement and Staffordshire led. It seemed as if it would only be a matter of time before Stafffordshire would increase their lead but surprisingly a needlessly conceded corner resulted in a scramble near the goaline and Derbyshire forced the ball home to level the scores,
Staffordshire went close twice before a clinical finish from Shania Hales restored their advantage and when Kelsey Richardson was allowed time to bring the ball down in the area she made no mistake from 8 yards to give Staffordshire a nice cushion and a 3-1 half time lead.
The second half was a mirror of the first with Derbyshire playing for pride but a defining moment came shortly after the break when Derbyshire and England International Katy Gigg smashed the ball from 35 yards spotting Charlotte Clarke off her line but Charlotte backpeddling, pulled off a superb save to keep the two goal margin and a strong base which allowed the Staffordshire players to express themselves and play some excellent attacking football.
They were rewarded with further goals from Holly Gibson and Shania Hales to run out comfortable winners by 5-1.This was just reward for the disappointments in cup competitions where the girls have been close to winning a title but have just been foiled at the last.
Below are some photographs of the Staffordshire girls and their parents who have been absolutely outstanding in support of their daughters. Severl of the girls played their final game for Stafffordshire and we wish Holly Gibson, Hannah Price, Ria Elsmore, Holly Nelson, Tia Lander and Kelsey Richardson every success with their examinations and their future footballing careers.
The under 14 Girls celebrate their achievement.
The Under 14 Girls season came to a more than satisfactory conclusion in the past ten days.
The Under Girls played Shropshire at Stafford Town FC on the 8th of May in a game which would decide the Midland Counties Federation title and Staffordshire knew going into the game that nothing but victory would suffice, anything less and Worcestershire would lay claim to the spoils.
Understandably Staffordshire were a little hesitant and the game was played very cautiously without either side posing a real threat. As the game settled down Staffordshire began to become the dominant force and just before half time gained the advantage with a well taken goal that calmed the nerves.1-0 at half time and one hand on the trophy.
The second half began well for Staffordshire and they constantly posed a threat going forward but as nerves crept in Shropshire began to get a foothold in the game and after a period where Staffordshire kept giving away possession it was no surprise to see Shropshire draw level. They were having their best spell of the game and came agonisingly close to moving ahead when a cross shot drifted inches wide of the far post.
Driven on by skipper Molly Bruton a piece of magical finishing from Shev Watson put Staffordshire ahead and a third goal quickly followed to give Staffordshire some breathing space. Shropshire to their credit never gave up the fight and when they scored a second a minute from time their were some nervy moments before the final whistle.
Staffordshire's 3-2 victory gave then the title of Midland Counties Champions, a first for a girls team in Staffordshire and great credit must go to manager David Ebberson and the girls, not forgetting the magnificent support that the parents have given throughout the season.
The following squad have been selected by coach Kieran Newey to play Debyshire in the Midland Counties final at South Normanton Athletic FC on Wednesday 13th of May KO 7-00pm
They will be hoping to lift the trophy for the first time in Staffordshire's history and to add to the league title won by the Under 14 girls last week.
Players are asked to reportto the ground as near to six as possible and usual dress code applies.
The Under 14 girls will sign off their season on Thursday at Stafford Town FC with their final match in the Midland Counties Federation league. The game has crystallised into a cup final as Staffordshire have to win the game to be crowned champions.
The game will kick off at 7-00 and admission charges are £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Come along and support the girls in attempting to be the first team to have their names inscribed on the new trophy, as the competition is in its inaugral season.
Hannah Price, a pupil at Blythe Bridge HS, and a member of the Staffordshire School's Football squad for the past three years has been rewarded for her dedication to the game by being offered a place at the first female football Academy in Wales for elite players.
Hannah, a right full back, who is strong in the tackle and very quick has been selected, after a rigourous trial process, for the elite academy at Ystrad Mynach College, the brainchild of the Welsh Women's manager Jayne Ludlow. Hannah will train everyday and study in the afternoons so that she will have the safety net of qualifications as well as an improved chance of playing proffessional football. It will mean being away from home at an early age but Hannah and her parents are very exited at the opportunity this provides.
The Welsh manager said, " Our elite group of 16-18 year olds will be based at Coleg Y Cymoedd where they will be studying and training full time. They will be coached by our staff currently in the pathway and the aim behind it is is to create an elite environment that will give our girls the impetus to compete at the top level in the future."
We wish Hannah every success in her future and hope that she will sign off her County career with a win in the MCF final in the near future.
Under 18 Boys
Codsall ( Cannock SFA ) 1-0 Repton ( Burton and District SFA )
Under 16 Boys
Trentham ( Stoke on Trent SFA 2 v 2 pens 2-4 Rawlett ( Tamworth SFA )
Under 15 Boys
Repton ( Burton and District SFA ) 1-3 St Margaret Ward (Stoke on trent SFA )
Under 14 Boys
Trentham HS ( Stoke on Trent SFA )2 v 3 aet John Taylor Academy (Burton and District SFA )
Under 13 Boys
St Edwards Middle ( Staffordshire Moorlands ) 4 v 0 Wilnecote HS ( Tamworth SFA )
Under 12 Boys
Blythe Bridge HS ( Staffordshire Moorlands ) 1 v 0 De Ferrers Academy ( Burton and District SFA )
Under 16 Girls
Blythe Bridge HS ( Staffordshire Moorlands SFA ) 1 v 7 De Ferrers Academy ( Burton and District)
Under 15 Girls
Kingsmead ( Cannock SFA ) 3 v 0 Thomas Alleynes Uttoxeter ( Staffordshire Moorlands SFA )
Blythe Bridge ( Staffordshire Moorlands ) 1 v 0 De Ferrers Academy ( Burton and District )
The Under 16 Girls equalled last year's performance by reaching the final of the Midland Counties Federation Cup.
They hosted Nottingham Schools FA who were the current holders, having beaten Staffordshire in last years final so the scent of revenge was in the air. Staffordshire started brightly and soon had Nottinghamshire on the back foot despite having the advantage of a strong wind at their backs. Staffordshires midfield engine room led by Anna King and Tia Lander stopped Notts in their tracks which allowed both Kelsey Richardson and Hannah Price from the flanks to test the Nottinghamshire sides defensive resolve.
Two good chances were created and spurned before a low cross was fired home by Tia Lander. Staffordshire continued to probe and the elusivity of Phoebe Warner had Notts at sixes and sevens and they were unable to respond, leaving Staffordshire keeper Charlotte Clarke a lonesome figure. The touchline pundits thought that if Staffs could lead at half time then with the elements in their favour they would be favourites to progress.
A ten minute period at the start of the second half proved the sages right and was the defining period of the game. Skipper Holly Gibson, who has been one of Stafffordshres most consistent performers for three seasons, played in Shania Hales who laid the ball back into the path of Holly who smashed home a shot of devastating power into the roof of the net. This was quickly followed by a Shania Hales goal to make it 3-0 and Staffordshire looked on their way to the final. So it proved to be but not before some champagne football from the girls when a second goal from Shania, a goal from Harriet Wellings and an own goal after a Hannah Price run and shot. Defensive lynchpins Ria Elsmore and Alex Buck have never had an easier night but played their part fully in some outstanding football from the Staffordshire side.
They will now meet Derbyshire in the final ay a venue and date to be confirmed.
The Under 14 boys wrapped up their season on Thursday night with a 2-2 draw against champions elect Shropshire.
The Staffordshire boys were coming off the back of a 2-1 defeat by West Midlands a week earlier when a solitary Owen Hall goal was scant reward for an excellent performance full of attacking football but missed chances proved expensive.
On Tuesday at Brocton they again found themselves two goals down just after half time and this could have been worse but for an excellent save from Mawgan Blight from a penalty kick. Staffordshire had once again played good football without reward but when Kyle Johnston rifled the ball into the net with ten minutes left the glimmer of hope turned in to a burning ember as Staffordshire threw caution to the wind in search of an equaliser. With only seconds remaining it seemed their efforts were in vain but Kyle nipped in between the Shropshire keeper and centre half and the deftest of touches carried the ball over the line and gave Staffordshire a well deserved point.
On Monday evening Stafford Town host the Under 16 girls individual schools final when Blythe Bridge meet De Ferrers Academy in a repeat of the sides contesting the Under 13 final . The game kicks off at 6-45 and admission is £2 for adults and £1 concessions.
On Tuesday the U15 girls finals brings down the curtain on this years finals when Kingsmead play Alleynes fro Uttoxeter at Stafford Town FC KO 4-45pm. This game will be followed by Staffordshire Under 16 girls v Nottinghamshire Under 16 girls in the Midland Counties semi final with the winners going on to meet Derbyshire in the Final at a dte and venue to be confirmed.The game kicks off at 7-00pm and admission is £3 for adults and £1 concessions.
The Under 14 Boys take on Shropshire tonight, 23rd of April at Brocton FC KO 7-00pm.
Admission is £3 for adults and £1 concessions.
The Under 16 Girls will take on current national champions Nottinghamshire in the semi finaks of the MCF competition on Tuesday 28th of April at Stafford Town FC with a 7-00pm KO.
Admission charges of £3 for adults and £1 concessions will apply as will the usual dress code. Players should meet as near to six as possible.
Manager Kieran Newey has named the following squad for the game:
On Monday night Stafford Town FC hosted the finals of the Under 14 and Under 16 County Cup Finals in what proved to be one of the best night's school cup finals for many a long year. All that were involved in such a momentous evening deserve a huge amount of credit as the conditions were more suited to water polo than football.
The club had worked tirelessly to get the games on after the weekend deluge and the pitch was in near perfect condition when the first game began in what could be described as light rainfall.The game was contested between Trentham High School and John Taylor Academy and contest is an apt description as two heavyweights slugged it out in a match full of high quality football and drama.
Trentham started better and pushed John Taylor back as Trentham skipper Jack Bromfield pulled the strings in midfield. They took the lead with a stunning strike from 25 yards which left the John Taylor keeper clawing at fresh air as the ball rocketed into the net. As the conditions continued to deteriorate John Taylor esablished a foothold in the game as possession ebbed and flowed. 1-0 at half time.
John Taylor started the second period much better and equalised midway through the half. Their superior physical strength began to tell and it was Max Bird from John Taylor who was the dominant force controlling play and making surging runs from deep which was a constant threat to the Trentham back line. Trentham held firm and fulltime saw the sides tied at 1-1.
Extra time was a slog for both sides and as both teams began to feel the effects of the energy sapping ground it was John Taylor who found a solution to break the deadlock. It always felt as though it would take something special and so it proved to be when a free kick by Robson of John Taylor just had too much pace and power for the Trentham keeper and with minutes to go John Taylor led 2-1.
2-1 proved to be the final score and John Taylor claimed the trophy but every person who played, coached or watched the match was a winner. Everything that is good about schools football was displayed during that game, skill, resiliance, courage, sportsmanship of the highest order and respect for teamates and opponents. It was a privelage to have witnessed such a great game. The match officials, Cashel O'Neil, Jack Prescott and Josh Lindsey also deserve the highest praise for keeping a game going in such challenging conditions.
Unbelievably the second match on the night Trentham v Rawlett was an even higher class encounter than the first game. The conditions had deteriorated during the evening and the rain was falling horizontally driven on by an ever increasingly strong north westerly wind. The temperature was dropping and the referee, Jak Machin had doubts about starting the game.
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