ESFA National Finals 2018 - Stoke City, Day 1
Friday 11 May 2018By ESFA Office
Premier League U16 Schools' Cup Finals
Thursday 10 May 2018
A game of football that is sparsely attended can have something of a ghostly quality, regardless of how knowledgeable the attendants are. The bet365 Stadium played host to a packed schedule of games that would thill the hundreds in attendance, regardless of their knowledge of the beautiful game.
Premier League U16 Small Schools’ Cup
Kibworth School 2 - 1 De La Salle Academy
The day opened with the Under 16 Small Schools Cup, a game fiercely contested between Kibworth School and De La Salle Academy. The tone was set in the opening few minutes of end to end football. After just three minutes, Kibworth found themselves with a corner kick, which was swung in on top of the goalkeeper. Unable to effectively punch the ball away, the ball fell to Cameron Lawrence on the edge of the box who smashed a right footed shot past the helpless defence. The goal stunned De La Salle, who struggled to keep the ball under control and break down the resolute Kibworth rear-guard. As the half wore on De La Salle rebuilt, working the ball with more determination and decisiveness onto the opposing half but the Kibworth defence held until the break.
As both sides re-emerged for the second half, Kibworth had the unenviable task of defending a lead against a determined side. De La Salle started the brighter of the two sides and pushed from the off. Striker, Sam Burns, provideed a focal point for the attack, linking play and showing great movement to retain the ball under pressure. Burns ran the start of the second half and scored a fabulous goal to level the game. The scores only remained level for a few minutes as the game became frantic again. The Kibworth midfield continued to show their value as they worked tirelessly from box to box. Commanding midfielder burst into the box and slot the ball past Callum Meaney to put Kibworth in front with only minutes left in the game. De La Salle attacked from the restart until the final whistle but their endeavours proved fruitless as the referee called time on the game and crown Kibworth School as U16 Small Schools Cup Champions 2018.
Premier League U16 Elite Schools’ Cup
Sandwell Academy 3 - 0 Ravens Wood School
The action didn’t stop as Sandwell Academy took on Ravens Wood School in the Under 16 Elite Schools Cup. The match had a roaring opening 20 minutes as both sides looked to attack from the off. Sandwell showed their quality and controlled the ball for the majority of the possession whereas, Ravens Wood sat back and looked to counter-attack. A precise through ball from Morgan Rogers lead to the eventual first goal from the Sandwell target man, Jordan Edwards, who slotted home a quality finish. Following the goal Sandwell continued to press as they looked to extend their advantage. Sandwell’s Finley Thorndike looked to continue his record of scoring in every round so far but was denied by valiant defending by Ravens Wood. The Ravens Wood defence were able to hold firm but shortly before half time Sandwell’s captain, Morgan Rogers, doubled their lead finishing coolly past Edwards in the net. In the second half Sandwell managed the game with the intelligence and level-headed approach of reigning champions. They rolled the ball from man to man, denying Ravens Wood the chance to get forward for a sustained period of time. Sandwell added their third goal of the match and ensure the victory.
Premier League U16 Schools’ Cup
Calday Grange 4 - 1 Whitgift School
The third final played on the day was the Under 16 Schools Cup for Boys, which was played by Calday Grange and Whitgift School. Calday Grange opened the quicker of the two teams, pressing high and forcing errors. Early on, George Nugent and Sam Durant forced errors from George Prest in the Whitgift goal. The chances would go begging as the Whitgift defenders covered on the line. Unfortunately, it became one error to many for Whitgift when the ‘keeper was closed down by George Nugent, who slotted home into an empty net. Heading into the half, it seemed Whitgift would be trailing after 40 minutes. However, Whitgift worked the ball down the right before a cross found its way to Jaan Stanley at the back post who finished high into the net.
The second half of the match began tentatively before Calday Grange ran away with the match. Nugent exploited the high line of Whitgift to get one on one with the goalkeeper before dummying past him and slotting the ball home. Nugent would turn provider for the next goal, flicking a header through to Jake Bickerstaff who put the ball into the bottom right corner of the net. With the game slipping from them, Whitgift began to pour forward looking to score. This left space in behind for Jack Gibson to run into the box. His shot was be parried by the goalkeeper out of the box to the waiting Nugent who scored his third of the day and fifteenth of the tournament to take the trophy and the match ball back to Wirral.
Premier League U16 Schools’ Cup for Girls
St Ivo School 6 - 0 Cramlington Learning Village
The final match of the day saw the outstanding performance of the day from St. Ivo school in the Under 16 Schools Cup for Girls against Cramlington Learning Village. The match had a nervous opening, as Cramlington edged the better of the chances. However, the scoring was opened after a scintillating run by Katherine Speed broke through four defenders and she hit the ball low and hard into the far bottom corner. Cramlington pushed forward looking to level the match, however, this left spaces behind the defence. Following a corner Speed broke forward weaving through players before laying the ball off for Abby Townsend to set up Zoe Barratt to clip the ball in off the underside of the bar. The schools from Huntington took a two goal lead in at the break, showing why they had scored fourty four and conceded only two on their way to the final.
Following the break, St Ivo came out with a killer instinct. After just five minutes of the half Catlin McGeown was played through by Speed and she picked her spot and leave the keeper no chance. Katherine Speed then adedd a goal to her personal highlight reel after picking up the ball in the centre circle and running through the heart of the defence and blasting the ball into the net. The Speed-Barratt connection would continue as Barratt added her second of the game after beating the defender for pace and leaving the keeper with no chance, finding the far bottom corner. With less than ten minutes left in the match, the most impressive solo goal of the day was scored by St Ivo’s Elle Jefferson. After collecting the ball from a Cramlington goal kick, the right back tore up the field, weaving through five defenders to get one on one with the keeper. The right back then took her time before slotting the ball low into the right corner of the net to round of an emphatic St Ivo win following an astounding cup campaign.
The ESFA would like to thank all the spectators who came along on the day to offer their support. The teams all deserve commandment for their achievement in reaching the final, and particular congratulations on the sides that won their respective cup tournaments. Finally, the ESFA would like to thank all the referees for their hard work.
There are still two days of national finals to come on Friday and Saturday. There is free entry to most matches (except matches one and four on Friday, which is £4 for Adults) and all the games can be watched on the ESFA YouTube channel.