On Sunday 20th March 2016, Pro Coaching Academy took a team of seven girls to the U14 national finals in the FA People’s Cup in Sheffield. The coaching team of Chris and Suzy Collins were looking to use the tournament as experience as five of the seven players were actually U13s. Eight teams from across the UK had qualified for the finals and they were split into 2 leagues. The girls played 3 matches of 15 minutes with winners going through to play in the final.
Match 1 Vs Tiger A from London – Kick Off 10.20am.
Team: Bethan, Lucy, Chloe H, Denva, Alexia.
Subs: Amber, Chloe J.
The first match kicked off and immediately the challenge was made evident by the size and physical presence of the opposition. After only 2 minutes a heavy challenge on Alexia saw her with a cut to her face and her left eye closed up immediately. That was it for her, end of the tournament. This was a big loss to Pro Coaching as Alexia has scored over 250 league and cup goals in the previous three seasons for her league side York Railway Institute. She was substituted by Chloe J.
In a very close match Tiger A took the lead from a quick free kick, Pro Coaching forgetting that you don’t need to wait for the referee’s whistle to take the kick. A minute later a great run and shot from Chloe J saw her rattle the far post. Pro Coaching were having a great spell with chances for Lucy and Denva. After 8 minutes Amber replaced Chloe H and almost immediately Amber nearly equalised with a well saved shot by the Tigers goalkeeper. At the other end Bethan was performing heroics with a couple of world class saves. On 12 minutes Pro Coaching finally got the equaliser they deserved. Lucy won the ball back on the left hand side and drove hard towards goal before placing a clever finish beyond the Tiger goalkeeper. A draw looked a fair result until the very last attack of the game, when Bethan in the York goal saved bravely from the Tiger forward but her momentum took her out of the penalty area, penalty to Tiger! They scored and the referee blew the final whistle straight after.
Full Time: Pro Coaching Academy 1 – Tiger A (London) 2
Match 2 Vs Caernarfon Town Girls from Wales – Kick Off 11.00am.
Team: Bethan, Lucy, Amber, Denva, Chloe J.
Subs: Chloe H.
In a match that Pro Coaching had to win to have any chance of progressing Coach Chris Collins decided on a more forward approach, telling Chloe J to stay further forward. The plan nearly worked in the very first minute when Denva pass found Chloe J and her shot drifted agonisingly wide of the Caernarfon goal. On 3 minutes Caernarfon took the lead with a well worked goal. Lucy was defending defiantly and some last gasp tackles stop the lead from extending. On 7 minutes Pro Coaching equalised against the run of play. Lucy won the ball near her own goal and ran through three tackles before side footing the ball into the back of the net, brilliant equaliser.
Pro Coaching now took the game to Caernarfon and good chance for Chloe J and Amber nearly got York ahead. On 8 minutes Chloe H replaced Amber and from the restart Pro Coaching scored the goal of the game. Great passing and movement from the whole side saw Denva free down the right hand side. Her perfect cross field pass left Chloe J a tap in, 2-1 Pro Coaching. A minute later and another heavy tackle, this time on Lucy left her with a bang to her head. She was seeing stars for about a minute but really wanted to play on. St Johns gave her the all clear but two injuries in two games – a pattern was beginning to form! The lead lasted until the 14 minute when a misplaced pass left the Caernarfon forward with a simple one on one. Again a draw looked the final result until fate intervened again. In a near carbon copy event to the last match Bethan, who had again been superb, saved well from the attacker but her momentum took her out of the area, penalty in the last few seconds. Caernarfon scored and the final whistle blew.
Full Time: Pro Coaching Academy 2 – Caernarfon Town Girls (Wales) 3.
Goals: Lucy, Chloe J.
Match 3 Vs Doncaster Belles – Kick Off 11.40am.
Team: Bethan, Lucy, Chloe, Denva, Chloe J.
The last match always looked likely to be the hardest and so it proved to be. Doncaster were a much bigger and stronger team and from the first whistle the tackles flew in. This really upset the girls and at times they just couldn’t compete with winning the ball back. Doncaster scored goals on a regular basis and by the ten-minute mark were 4-0 up. Amber replaced Chloe J. As Doncaster took their foot off the pedal Pro Coaching got more of the ball and started to create a few good chances, with Lucy, Amber and Denva going close. But with a couple of minutes to go a very heavy challenge on Denva left her leaving the field with her arm in a sling. Three injuries in three matches and people have the audacity to say girls’ football is not physical! Two late goals for Doncaster gave them a comfortable win but for Bethan in goal it would have been more. Not a bad result against what is essentially a WSL academy team.
Full Time: Pro Coaching Academy 0 – Doncaster Belles 6.
The physicality and age of the older girls proved to be a major factor in the results today. Pro Coaching at times just couldn’t compete physically but when they had the chance they played some fantastic football and looked capable of beating anyone. It was a great learning curve for all the girls to match themselves against older, stronger and more experienced girls, and on the whole they matched them. All want to come back next year and try when they are U14s, as coaches we just can’t wait!