JUST one match stands between Haslingden High School U15s girls’ football team and a place in the national final.
When the team played last year in the U14 competition they reached the last 16 in the English Schools’ Football Association Girls’ PlayStation School’s Cup.
However this year they have put in some stunning performances and none better than the 4-0 thrashing the team gave the runner-up team from the 2017-18 competition – Durham Johnston School.
The match was presided over by retired World Cup referee George Courtney.
Lucy Valentine, 14, said: “In the first half, Beth Macdonald scored first and then Abby Clark made it 2-0 by half time.”
Beth Macdonald said: “We went into the changing rooms at half-time and we were really happy, but we also knew that we couldn’t let up in the second half because we knew the other team would be wanting to get back at us. When we went back on the pitch everyone was buzzing.”
Half way through, Beth added a second goal and then just five minutes before the end of the match she added a third to make it a hat-trick.
She said: “I intercepted the ball and won it back and I was between the 18 yard line and the half way line and I took the shot. It went straight into the right hand corner of the net.”
The team was delighted and their four goals proved unassailable for last year’s finalists. Even though a yellow card was handed to one of the Haslingden’s players, Beth Hartwell, it could not dampen spirits.
Ten members of the team play for local and regional teams across Lancashire as well as competing for the school.
A total of 268 teams entered the competition which kicked off in October. In the first round, Haslingden won 3-1 away at Blackburn’s St Bede’s, 3-1 at home to Calderdale Ryburn Valley, 3-2 away at Harrogate’s Rossett School, 4-2 on penalties away at Manchester Trinity CE and then 4-2 away against Chesterfield High School.
The all-conquering team will now face yet another away match. The semi-final is away at St Ivo School, St Ives in Cambridgeshire, on Thursday March 21. St Ivo was knocked out in the same round last year by Durham Johnston – the team Haslingden has just beaten.
Lucy said: “I am nervous but I am also pretty sure we can deliver. As long as we play as well as we did at Durham, we will do it.”
Beth added: “We played the best football we have at Durham with lots of passing between the team.”
The winning team will face either Gordano School, from North Somerset, The John Warner School, Lea Valley, or last year’s winning team Blenheim High School – as one quarter final has still to be played
Haslingden High School team: Tara Woods, Charlotte Whalley, Ella Hall, Lucy Valentine, Beth Hartwell, Abby Clark, Beth Macdonald, Millie Thompson, Chloe Smith, Lucy Spence, Niamh Downey, Amelia Stansfield, Charlotte Mousley and Chloe Leftly.