Middlesex 3-0 Gloucestershire
The Middlesex U14 Girls squad of 2020-21 claimed the National Championship last Saturday (18th September), when they defeated Gloucestershire in the Final of the English Schools’ FA PlayStation Inter-County Cup.
Played on an immaculate surface at Aldershot Town FC, the match was a tremendous advertisement for both girls’ football and Inter-County competition, with two evenly-matched teams going toe-to-toe. Ulimately, the Seaxes were more clinical in front of goal and this helped them defend the trophy Middlesex was joint-winners of in 2019-20.
The opening quarter of the match was played at a furious pace, with both teams having chances to score. However, it was Middlesex who made the breakthrough, Mia Obeng using her power and pace to burst clear of the Gloucestershire defence. Obeng charged down the left before cutting inside and firing the ball across the goalkeeper’s dispairing dive.
As the first half came to a close, Gloucestershire had Middlesex under pressure but the Seaxes showed resillience and guile to turn a difficult situation into a crucial second goal. A minute before half-time, Gloucestershire were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, which was curled narrowly over Rebekah Dowsett’s crossbar. That gave Middlesex the opportunity to launch an incisive counter-attack; captain Lola Nesbeth saw her shot parried away but the rebound fell into the path of Mia Obeng, whose tidy finish beat the stranded goalkeeper.
Middlesex started the second half brightly and ten minutes into the second period, they got the third goal that ultimately clinched the trophy. The move was started by Ryessa Sekhon, who hit a superb 60-yard pass into the path of Mia Obeng. As Obeng surged forward, so did Sekhon, who was perfectly placed when Obeng cut the ball back to her. Sekhon’s finish was exemplary and left Gloucestershire with a mountain to climb.
However, Gloucestershire didn’t let their heads drop and continued to push hard to stay in the game, striking the crossbar with one shot and firing narrowly wide with another. It has to be said though that there was so little to choose between these teams in terms of general play that they generally cancelled each other out in the final few minutes, ensuring that Middlesex won the match 3-0.
At the end of the game, Mia Obeng was voted Player of the Match while it was Lola Nesbeth who had the honour of lifting the PlayStation Cup on behalf of a truly Representative Team; the 14 players who represented Middlesex were drawn from 13 different schools and six of the eight boroughs from which the Association can select players.
Middlesex: Rebekah Dowsett (Goalkeeper) (Bishop Ramsey), Tayla Dennis (Fortismere), Georgia Brandon (Southgate), Kayla Nohasiarisoa (Cardinal Wiseman), Saoirse Hourigan (St Thomas More), Mia Obeng (Chace Community), Trea Hourigan (St Thomas More), Lola Nesbeth (Captain) (Gumley House), Ryessa Sekhon (Vyners), Kaya Bamber (Woodside), Lola Shack (JCoSS).
Substitutes (all used, repeat substitutions permitted): Jasmine Yamani (Saracens Academy), Megan Guthrie (Wren Academy), Victoria Racheva (Ashmole Academy)
Lancashire 3-0 Middlesex
On Sunday 12th September, the U16 Girls squad also played in their National Cup Final at the Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Their opponents were girls football powerhouse Lancashire, who were appearing in their 10th consecutive U16 Girls’ Inter-County Cup Final and had won six of the preceding nine. The Red Roses included England U17 internationals Grace Newton and Jessica Simpson and English Schools’ U15 international Megan Sofield in their starting XI, while Middlesex were shorn of their English Schools’ International Macey Bannerman-Lloyd, who was ruled out through injury. It should be noted that all bar three of the Middlesex squad were U15 players, ‘playing up’ a year.
Despite being the underdogs, Middlesex started the game brilliantly and were awarded a penalty in the second minute, having caught Lancashire cold with a rapid counter-attack. Lenna Gunning-Williams stepped up to take the spot-kick, but her effort was well saved by Grace Newton.
This seemed to stir Lancashire into action and the Cup holders gradually took control of the match. It took a special goal to give them the lead though; Emma Siddall, who has First Team experience with Blackburn Rovers, hit a stunning shot from 30 yards, giving Seaxes goalkeeper Teida Nakamoto no chance.
Although Middlesex did occasionally threaten Lancashire’s goal, it was the Red Roses who scored again just before half-time, Megan Sofield’s low shot on the turn proving too good for Nakamoto.
Two goals up at the break, Lancashire added a third goal early in the second half, when an excellent through ball by Lou Lou Newton set up Jessica Simpson; the young Lioness finished coolly to put her team firmly in control of the Final.
It was to the credit of the entire Middlesex squad that they didn’t let their heads drop and continued to work hard for the remainder of the match; all five substitutes, including goalkeeper Maisie Swan, got some game time and every member of the 16-strong squad should be proud of the way they represented themselves and their County. This was Lancashire’s fourth consecutive U16 Girls’ Cup and seventh in 10 years, but they were made to earn it by a spirited Middlesex squad drawn from 14 different schools in seven of the eight boroughs from which we can select players.
Middlesex: Teida Nakamoto (Goalkeeper) (Hendon), Scarlet Shafer-James (Alexandra Park), Noelani Agyeman (Ark Academy), Rebekah Wozniak (Sacred Heart), Sophie Dionissou (Wren Academy), Megan Peters Weise (St Thomas More), Shakira Kafero-Roberts (Queens Park School), Lenna Gunning-Williams (Chace Community), Araya Dennis (Fortismere), Madison Perry (Bishopsalt), Caitlen Star Boodram (Captain) (Heartlands High)
Substitutes (all used, repeat substitutions permitted): Maisie Swan (Goalkeeper) (Bishop Ramsey), Roopjot Kaur Bath (Swakely’s), Sarah McDermott (Sacred Heart), Angel Acheampong (Twyford), Lucy Rawding (Highlands)
Be part of the next generation!
We are still inviting nominations for our 2021-22 Girls’ Representative Teams. To be eligible, players must attend school in one of the following boroughs: Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow.
They must also be put forward by a responsible adult with some knowledge of their football abilities, using our Nomination Form.