March 2017: Footballers turn disappointment into joy by netting Lancashire Cup place

DISAPPOINTMENT at narrowly out on a Wembley fixture turned to joy for Haslingden High School footballers when they landed a place in the Lancashire Cup final.

The team saw victory snatched away by a couple of goals in the last three minutes of the Under 13s girls’ team Northern Final of the Kinder + Sport English Football League, EFL, Girls Cup in Sheffield.

However, just five days later, all the Year 8s in the school’s Under 14s team were celebrating after knocking out Blackburn’s St Wilfrid’s team to earn a place in the Lancashire Cup final.

PE teacher Nikki Berko said: “The U14 girls’ football team beat St Wilfrid’s 2-1 to reach the Lancashire Cup final; I think it’s the first time any Haslingden High School football team has got to the final.

“The girls thoroughly deserved the win and the goals came from Beth Macdonald and Abby Clarke.”

Just four teams were competing in the Kinder + Sport competition – Haslingden High School representing Blackburn Rovers and schools representing Shrewsbury, Peterborough and Barnsley Football Clubs.

In the EFL Cup they played each of the three teams twice and Libby Humphreys, 13, said: “After the first three matches we had won two 1-0 and lost one 3-1, then in the second set we only won once.”

Their last game was against eventual winners Shrewsbury who qualified for the national final at Wembley on April 2.

Lucy Valentine, 12, said: “We needed to win our last match and after eight minutes, when it got to half-time, we were 2-1 up.

“Then their goal keeper scored a goal and then they got another two goals.”

The team finished in third place by just one point.

It was a tough few matches for the team with Beth Macdonald, 12, suffering a sprained wrist and Abby Clarke, 12, being fouled.

Beth said: “We were the better footballers as a team but we were against players who are in big teams and they were able to take every chance they got. We will be back again next year.”

The team of Year 8s with goalkeeper  Millie Thompson a Year 7 student , have been playing together since they started at Haslingden High School and many play for teams outside of school.

Lucy Valentine plays with Blackburn Rovers U14s and Lancashire U13s; Abby plays with Everton U14s and Lancashire U13s; Beth plays for Manchester City; Chloe Leftly, 13, and Millie play for Haslingden Girls U13s while Lucy Spence plays for Bridge Girls U13s in Rochdale.

The Under 14s squad comprised: Jane Finlay, Lottie Hargreaves, Ellie Chattwood, Chloe Leftly, Libby Humphreys, Abby Clarke, Lydia Main, Beth Macdonald, Lucy Valentine, Becky Holden, Ashlea Jolly, Lucy Spence and Alicia Joyce.

They will now face either Archbishop Temple from Preston or Clitheroe Grammar School in the final.