After winning the City, County and Regional finals St Mary’s Year 7 girls football team travelled down to Birmingham for the National Finals of the ESFA 5-a-side competition. After a 5 hour journey the girls were immediately into action in game 1 against Thomas Telford School.
The girls started really slowly and were quickly down 3 goals despite some excellent work from Emily Smith in goal to limit the damage. Just before half-time St Mary’s managed to get on the scoreboard with a well struck goal from Rebecca Ferguson. A change in the defence brought Phoebe Sanderson into the back line and she immediately solidified the St Mary’s defence. The girls started the second half strongly and Stephanie Riley finished off a classy move to get St Mary’s back in the game with 4 minutes to go. St Mary’s continued to pile on the pressure and scored a deserved equaliser when Rebecca Ferguson drove home her second of the day. With under a minute left in the game St Mary’s attacked in numbers again but were hit on the counter attack by the opposition striker, whose snapshot just managed to beat Emily Smith at her near post giving Thomas Telford the win 4-3.
In game 2 St Mary’s faced off against Gordano School. The game was a very close match, with both teams struggling to create chances against very well organised defences. Gordano School struck first just before half time after a slick passing move. St Mary’s responded immediately when Rebecca Ferguson fired in a rocket from just inside the opposition half. St Mary’s had the best of the second half but were unable to beat the Gordano School keeper who pulled off several excellent saves to keep the score at 1-1.
Needing to win to have any chance of qualifying St Mary’s faced Queen’s School in the final round of the groups stages. The girls got off to a lighting fast start and were quickly 2-0 up thanks to excellent finishes from Stephanie and Rebecca. More goals quickly followed to make the game safe despite a late consolation for Queens, but girl’s eyes were starting to drift to the fixture on the adjacent pitch. Unfortunately results did not go our way leaving St Mary’s 3rd in the group and in the 2nd competition for the ESFA Shield. The girls really suffered as a result of their slow start in game 1 but still had the chance to go home with some silverware on the day.
In the semi-final St Mary’s faced Duston School. The team started well and had shots saved from Rebecca Ferguson and Stephanie Riley. The Duston School goalkeeper was in outstanding form and was single-handedly keeping Duston in the game with a string of fine saves. Stephanie Riley finally beat the keeper to make it 1-0, but St Mary’s were quickly pegged back minutes later to make the game 1-1 at half time. A strong save from Emily Smith kept the score at 1-1 but unfortunately resulted in a sprained wrist which kept her out of the remaining fixtures. Rebecca Ferguson stepped up to take her place and immediately was called into action to keep the score at 1-1 with a sharp save. Immediately after the restart Stephanie Riley forced yet another save from the Duston goalkeeper but this time the rebound fell kindly for Rebecca Ferguson who hammered the ball home to give St Mary’s the lead. The girls dominated the second half but the game was not made safe until the final minute, when Lauren Richardson scored a terrific goal, pressuring the defence into a mistake before smashing the ball into the bottom corner to put St Mary’s into the final.
In the final St Mary’s faced off against Cheney School. The girls dominated the final from the word go and were quickly into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Stephanie Riley, Lauren Richardson and Rebecca Ferguson. Romalli McKellow, Phoebe Sanderson and Vianne Hawkins were excellent in defence and St Mary’s appeared to be coasting to victory with a 3-0 lead at half time. Katie Motion also had an excellent first half as the stand in goalkeeper. Cheney School struck back quickly in the second half with 2 goals to bring themselves within 1. The girls responded brilliantly, playing their best football and tearing their opponent’s defence apart. Stephanie Riley fired in the first after dribbling past 3 Cheney defenders before slotting home. Another long distance thunderbolt from Rebecca Ferguson gave St Mary’s a 2 goal lead, before Lauren Richardson made the result safe with a goal in the final minute to give St Mary’s the win and the ESFA Shield.
The girls performed outstandingly well on the day and were unfortunate not to finish in the top 2 in their group. Their attitude and commitment after being knocked out was exceptional and they fought back brilliantly to win the ESFA Shield and finish 5th in the country in a competition with over 600 schools entering, an incredible achievement.
Mr Hook and Mr Bone
Players of the day
Rebecca Ferguson – Rebecca finished the day with 8 goals and was outstanding throughout the day, driving the team forwards every time she had the ball and firing in some unstoppable finishes from distance.
Stephanie Riley – Stephanie played the role of striker to perfection with 7 goals on the day, saving her best performance for the final with a hat-trick which helped seal the victory.
Phoebe Sanderson – Phoebe was inspirational at the back and really settled the defence down after a very shaky start in game 1. She didn’t give up her position afterwards, starting the remaining games and repelling the opposition attacks time and time again.
- Rebecca Ferguson (capt)
- Vianne Hawkins
- Emily Smith
- Katie Motion
- Lauren Richardson
- Pheobe Sanderson
- Romalli McKellow
- Stephanie Riley