by Tim Nuttall
Promising young footballers from Holderness are celebrating after helping the East Riding to secure victory in the English Schools’ Football Association (ESFA) U12 Girls’ Cup Final.
Having defeated Rotherham in the semi-final, the team travelled to Worcester’s Sixways stadium last Sunday where they took on Wolverhampton in an exciting match that saw the East Riding take the lead after only 20 seconds.
Despite retaining the lead throughout the first half, Wolverhampton scored midway through the second to bring the score level.
A second East Riding goal remained elusive, in spite of numerous chances that saw them hit the post on more than one occasion.
With the match ending one-all, it came down to penalties to determine the winner.
The girls remained calm and positive throughout, with Lacey Dransfield, Katie Owens and Withernsea’s Lily Barker effortlessly converting their spot-kicks – taking the team to a victory that was ably assisted by goalkeeper Chloe Clubley, who pulled off two superb saves from a determined Wolverhampton side.
Paul Owens, the girls’ team coach, said: “The team currently comprises year seven students from Hornsea High School, Withernsea High School, Pocklington’s Woldgate School, Wolfreton School in Willerby, Cottingham High and South Hunsley School in Melton.
“These very talented girls play for teams in the local East Riding Girls’ League, or Regional Talent Clubs (RTCs) across Yorkshire. Despite them playing lots of football elsewhere, we thought it was important to run regular training sessions to bring the players closer together. This bond was definitely on show on Sunday.
“I was lucky enough to co-run a very talented grassroots side for over five years and it has been a huge privilege to coach many of those players again, along with some talented girls from old rivals, in this East Riding squad and bring a national trophy back to the county.”
Reflecting on the match, Chloe Clubley, the team’s goalkeeper and student at Withernsea High School, added: “It has been a really great experience to play in the team with the other girls and it has given me more confidence in my regular team, Thorngumbald Baronesses.
“I was really happy on Sunday when we won the match. We were all quite nervous on the bus on the way there, but it was cool to warm up and play in such a big stadium. The atmosphere when we came out of the tunnel with music playing was amazing.
“All the girls played really well and we all tried our best. I was worried when it went to penalties, but was really happy when I made the saves and three of our players scored their penalties.
“Paul, our coach, has really helped us all and put on extra training sessions for us. He is really kind and always wants us to enjoy the games which makes us feel relaxed.”