U14 girl footballers in national quarter-final

YOUNG footballers from Haslingden High School have earned a quarter final place in the English Schools’ Football Association U14 Cup.

The Year 8 and Year 9 girls have played in six rounds of the PlayStation Schools’ Cup which started in September with 224 teams.

Their last match – at home against Lymm High School in Warrington – ended up in a tough battle which the Haslingden side won 1-0.

The seventh-round matches for the final eight teams have just been announced and Haslingden will be playing another home tie against South Hunsley School and Sixth Form College from East Riding sometime before March 4.

Over the competition, the girls have posted some amazing away results including 7-3 to defeat Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College, Trafford, in the first round; 7-0 against St Bede’s, Blackburn and 7-3 against The Elton High School, Bury.

When they faced Our Lady Catholic High School, Preston, on home turf, with 10 minutes to go and a scoreline of 5-1, the match was clearly Haslingden’s to win.

Centre back Senaiya Knill said: “We were all over them, it had been 3-1 and then we scored another two goals and we had just 10 minutes so we were passing back to kill time.”

However, the tactics let Our Lady get three quick goals bringing the score to 5-4.

Centre Midfielder Ella Collinson said: “We learned not to sit back even when we are in that position.”

The team has mostly been playing together since they first kicked a ball with many starting at Rossendale Valley while others first played at Haslingden Girls.

Centre back Dixie Third is in Manchester United’s Regional Talent Club (RTC), Senaiya and Ella are at Blackburn RT.

Miriam Aliouane is at Bolton along with other teammates and Darcie Dixon and others are at Accrington Stanley.

Ella said: “I think we can get through to the final because we are a good team.”

Senaiya added: “We work hard and we work well together.”

The team’s usual coach PE teacher Nikki Berko has not been able to support them at the matches after breaking her third metatarsal, but the Head of PE Wes Haworth has stepped up as coach.

In last year’s England competition, it was a penalty shootout that led to the South Hunsley team putting paid to the Haslingden U14 girls hopes of progressing to the semi-finals. The students are hoping to reverse those fortunes.