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On Friday 8th December the girls County Final was hosted at the Littledown Centre for Year 5 and 6 primary school children from across Dorset. This brought together the top 2 teams from 5 different areas in Dorset from tournaments played in November.
There were two groups of 5; Group A consisted of Conifers, Ferndown, Stoborough, Broadstone and St James. Group B was filled up by St Katharine’s, St Mary’s, Branksome, Mudeford and Lockyers. The top two teams from each group would qualify for the semi-finals. Again our games were quite spread out over the group stage; our fixtures were against Conifers (12.15), Ferndown (1.15), Stoborough (1.45) and finally Broadstone (2.15).
So Conifers were our first opponents; the game started off quickly; we took possession and made our way up the pitch with some good passing and movements. Avie found herself in some space inside the penalty area, she opened up her body and had a shot, it was well saved by the Conifers keeper with her feet. But within the time that we were jumping around on the touchline, Conifers broke away on the counter attack; and as typical as football is, they scored. The girls didn’t drop their heads at all; if anything it encouraged them even more. They bounced back better than any of us expected; St James took control for the rest of the half and it paid off right at the end of the half. Avie seriously stepped up since conceding that goal; the ball was in their half and Avie was just tackling any of the Conifers players who had the ball and she was making her way into the box and tackled the last defender with the ball; the ball rolled to Alice who toe poked it home into far bottom corner to make it 1-1 at the end of the half. The girls knew that they were in control of the game and just had to keep doing what they were doing and we would win this game. The second half was the complete opposite. Very scrappy, poor passing and everyone was out of position; then all of a sudden Alice found herself through on goal, she was one on one with the keeper, she had a shot on the edge of the box with her weaker foot and it rattled against the crossbar, and that was the end of the match.
Our next match was against Ferndown who had lost to Broadstone 2-0 in their first match. We changed the line up slightly by starting Kacey instead of Nell. This match was not the best from either team by a long shot; we played exactly the same as the second half in the Conifers match. We were misplacing passes, scared to tackle the opposition; no one was talking to each other. Nothing really happened throughout the first half and during half time the girls knew that they weren’t playing their best and they had to up their game to stand a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. The second half was a little bit of the same, still making silly mistakes like passing it across the box which lead to Ferndown’s striker going through on goal and testing Amber for the first time, who made a really good save to keep it at 0-0. We made one substitution during the second half and brought on Laras for Kacey. The match was coming to an end and neither side looked like scoring until Avie played the ball through for Alice who again was one on one with the keeper again but this time made no mistakes and scored the winner with the last kick of the match. Not the most convincing win but four points from two matches left us in a good position for the last remaining two matches.
The next match against Stoborough was cancelled due to them not turning up to the tournament at all. In the other match Ferndown beat Conifers 3-0.
Our final game was against Broadstone, and both teams had already qualified for the semi-finals. This game was going to settle who finished top of the group and play the runner up in Group B and who came runner up in our group and played the winner of Group B.
This game was going to be the toughest one so far. The game started off quickly with a lot of attacking from Broadstone’s players. Amber was tested early on and made 4 saves in quick succession to deny them taking the lead. Throughout the first half they were dominating and after a number of good blocks from Amie, Rhianna and Esme, Broadstone finally broke the deadlock half way through the half. During the second half Alice came close with a shot from distance but the keeper saved the ball, as did Amber when Broadstone returned the attack. The match ended 1-0.
After the other group had finished their matches everyone got brought in together to be told which four teams had made it to the semi-finals; we already knew that Broadstone and us were through, we just wanted to know who we were facing. As we finished runners up we were facing the Group B winners Lockyers and Broadstone would be facing Mudeford.
Our match with Lockyers didn’t start for a while due to Amber hurting her hand while making a save in the previous match. Once we had wrapped up Ambers’ hand we could start. Lockyers’ were an incredibly strong team but our girls got stuck in and demonstrated such determination and resilience. The match finished with Lockyers’ taking the win.
We then had to play Broadstone again to determine 3rd and 4th place winner. The match was incredibly exciting and the girls really upped their game from when they played the team in the heats. After Alice scored a fantastic goal just before half time the girls were in good spirits. Unfortunately Broadstone took one back from us in the closing moments of the game and it finished 1-1. The decision was made that we wouldn’t go to extra time or penalties and would indeed call the player offs a draw.
We are incredibly proud that the girls played so well in order to qualify for the County Finals in the first place but to then make it through to the semi finals and come 3rd, it is such an achievement. Well done girls!! You demonstrated determination, resilience, team work and fantastic sportsmanship. It was a pleasure to watch you and we could not be prouder that you represented St James’ so well.
Mr Parkin, Mrs Finnigan and Miss Bowen