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Feb 9, 2020

An Epic day for Staffordshire School's FA

On .Saturday Staffordshire School's FA hosted two national semi finals at Stafford Town FC. The Under 16 boys met North Yorkshire SFA and the U18's met their counterparts from Lancashire. Both games were emotional rollercoasters for all involved where no quarter was given or asked but two games in which the ethos of schools football shone through.

The Under 16 Boys kicked off proceedings in a game which ebbed and flowed and it was apparrent after ten minutes or so that there was very little between the two teams. In a very tight first half Staffordshire had the best of the chances and the North Yorkshire keeper made one stunning stave to keep the tie level. Staffordshire broke the deadlock just before half time when Eden Bailey swept the ball home from close range to hand Staffordshire the advantage.

The second half was just as keenly contested and North Yorkshire were the dominant force without really threatening the Staffordshire goal but midway through the half they equalised with a scruffy goal that barely had the strength to cross the line.  Both teams now threw everything into the game and North Yorkshire created two excellent chances to lead but were unable to find a finishing touch. They also suffered the loss of their skipper with an ankle injury and as the game moved towards extra time Staffordshire skipper Charlie Pearsall wrote himself into the history books by scoring the winning goal with only three minutes on the clock. Staffordshire saw out the final minutes to move into the National Final for the second time in four years and this group now will try to emulate the exploits of the class of 2017.

The game was played in front of a large and knowledgeable crowd who gave both teams a rousing reception at the conclusion of an excellent cup tie. Staffordshire will face Bedfordshire in the final at a time and place to be decided.

Within minutes of the conclusion of the U16 game the two Under 18 teams took to the field. Lancashire had disposed of Durham Schools FA in the quarter final who were favourites for the tournament so a tough game was anticipated and so it proved to be.

Staffordshire started very strongly and dominated the early exchanges with Oli Puttnam, Dave Perreira and Kyle Ashman causing the Lancashire boys no end of problems. Oli rattled the post with a brilliant strike and only desperate defending and good luck kept Staffordshire at bay. A deflected Kyle Ashman strike gave Staffordshire a deserved lead and Kyle doubled his and Staffordshires tally before half time. Staffordshire continued to dominate the game with some lovely passing football and Lancashire were fortunate to go in only two down.

The Lancashire management tweaked their formation and they were much better in the second half dominating possession for long periods but without really posing a threat to  Staffordshire as Owen Turner and Josh Lewis were outstanding at the heart of the Staffordshire back four. Lancashire got their just rewards for their endeavours when scoring with twenty minutes left on the clock. Staffordshire now looked nervous but they regained a modicum of control and were denied a penalty but were then awarded a penalty with ten minutes to go and a chance to put the tie to bed. The chance was squandered with the ball blazed over the bar which led to a nail biting final few minutes. The boys saw the game out and they matched the result of the U16 Boys. This will be a second final appearence for the age group but they have not won the competition before.

They will meet Gloucestershire or Essex in the final.