Bob Docherty Trophy from England's Perspective
Tuesday 22 April 2014By ESFA Office
Slovakia were the first eagerly anticipated guest side for this annual home international tournament in its new format of two groups. Having been drawn in the same group as holders Scotland this was always going to be a tall ask for England, however following their recent demolition of the Republic of Ireland at Maidstone, the U15 girls international team arrived full of confidence with the aim of lifting the 2014 Bob Docherty trophy.
The idyllic surroundings of Repton village provided the beautiful backdrop as hosts for the tournament's first staging on these shores. A truly excellent week of schoolgirl football was about to unfold and be witnessed by several hundred appreciative spectators. Mr Nigel Brown, chairman of SAFIB, duly opened the tournament, and it is fair to say that the ensuing football was played in the spirit in which was called for.
England kicked off their opener against Wales in positive style, immediately going on the offensive. By the time Ellie Brazil had opened the scoring on 16 minutes the pattern for the game had already been set. In a dominant display of attacking Jess Jones was unlucky to see her 25 yard effort crash against the cross bar shortly before Georgia Stanway converted from an indirect free kick. Half-time and England led 2-0. It was more of the same as the second half commenced as England mounted a series of attacks and Wales struggled to create any meaningful chances. The only surprise was that England were unable to add to their first half tally, although Georgia Stanway tested the woodwork again with her 20 yard effort rebounding off both bar and post. A satisfactory introduction to the tournament.
Meanwhile across in Group B the Republic of Ireland made an equally impressive start seeing off their northern counterparts, winning by a similar 2-0 margin.
Scotland, the 2013 champions, commenced their involvement in the tournament on Day 2, England's rest day. In the second Group A game the Scots made short work of eliminating Wales with a thumping 6-0 win which was to set up a mouthwatering winner-takes-all game with England on Day 3 for a place in the final. In the afternoon Group B game the Republic of Ireland set about cementing their place in the final with a confident and well earned 2-1 win over Slovakia.
Day 3 matched the eagerly anticipated clash between the auld enemies - England and Scotland. Both teams entered knowing whoever prevailed would progress to the final against the ROI - a tie would be decided by a penalty shoot.
Scotland started in typical fashion, quick and direct; so it was no real surprise when Brogan Hay forced an error from the England defence to race clear and score after only 3 minutes. Undeterred England settled and began to play attractive, possession football. On 9 minutes England drew level; following a quick counter attack down the left side headed by Katie Gigg, her pass inside found Jess Jones who fired a unstoppable right foot drive past the Scottish keeper.
Moments later England had turned the game on its head scoring a second; again led by the impressive Gigg, her cross finding the head of Beth Lumsden before Georgia Stanway fired a left foot shot across the keeper into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. In the main England looked good value for their lead, yet in a twist right on the stroke of half time Scotland hit back with 45 yard free kick from Dalgliesh which somehow found its way into the roof of the net. Half-time with the teams lockedat 2-2. A cagey second half with no clear chances meant we were heading for the dreaded penalty shootout.
England immediately found themselves behind during penalties and playing catch up having missed with the first spot kick.At 3-3Scotland had a penalty to seal the victory, however the magnificent Charlotte Johnson in goal made her second wonderful save from 12 yards and so to sudden death.
When Olivia Dean calmly made it 4-3 it was again left to Charlotte Johnson to pull off the heroics - cue hysteria and the well deserved place in the final for the England Girls!
Slovakia brought the group proceedings to an end in Group B with a 2-0 win over Northern Ireland.
And so to Day 4 and the eagerly anticipated play-offs. Northern Ireland secured fifth spot beating Wales 2-0 with Scotland and Slovakia sharing third after a quality 0-0 draw.
Having beaten the ROI 8-0 at Maidstone only a month before there was great expectation on the England team to prevail. They never looked like disappointing, racing into a 2-0 lead through a wonderful second minute strike from Georgia Stanway and an Ellie Brazil goal on 11 minutes. Full of confidence at this England showed great control and maturity in controlling the game. To Ireland's credit they continued to make life uncomfortable for England spurred on by their superb traveling support. It was only when Katie Gigg converted a 57th minute penalty won by Jess Jones that England were assured of victory. It was just left for Brenna McPartlan to lift the trophy, England's first success at this level at their third attempt.
The England girls now head to Glasgow on Saturday for the invitational fixture against Scotland in pursuit of the Lloyds TSB Cup.
Sarah Steadman, England U15 Schoolgirl Team Manager
- 22nd :: Bob Docherty Trophy from England's Perspective