By Nathan Hallett-Young
In November, Bristol Rovers Community Trust hosted our local round of the EFL Girls Cup. This is where a variety of schools entered in hope to progress to the Area Finals and represent Bristol Rovers.
Bradley Stoke Community School were our victors and rightly earned their place at the Area Finals held at South Bristol Sports centre on Thursday 5th of January.
The area finals was where the EFL girls cup started to get serious, with that in mind Community coaches Abbie Jones and Nathan Hallett-Young ran sessions prior to the competition to get the Christmas break out of their systems and in hope for the girls to be at the peak of their ability.
The morning of the area finals was very cold and icy which posed a threat to the tournament being postponed, the hosting staff did a good job allowing the competition to run and all be it with a delayed start time allowing the pitches to thaw out properly.
Looking at the opponents, Nathan Hallett-Young and teacher at Bradley Stoke, Clair Wyatt prioritised wins against the different clubs that we were due to play. Obviously being drawn against the likes of Bristol City and Swindon Town It was noted that these were must win games and were the most important fixtures of them all.
Given the wintery weather, Rovers got off to a pretty slow start losing their first game against rivals City 3-0 although Rovers goalkeeper Elouise’s valiant efforts to keep the gas in the game, City were unfortunately too strong.
Disappointed with their opening performance, Rovers looked to rectify their first game and came flying out of blocks against Newport County, with early goals from Maddi and Lucy. Despite the constant pressure and Maddi notching another goal, defensively Rovers couldn’t keep up with Newport thus losing their second game 5 goals to 3.
Fixture three was of similar stead to the first two, coming up against a technically good Cardiff city side losing 4 goals to 2, with goals from Maddi and Lucy.
The table didn’t look to be in our favour after our third game, bottom of the group and a miracle needed to resurrect any hope of progression with 4 games remaining and 4 wins needed.
Game 4 was a mass turning point in our day, the sun had come out, the Rovers camera crew had turned up and suddenly with the spotlight on the Bradley Stoke girls everything clicked. The girls went out against Exeter City and gave their all, winning 5 goals to 3, with 1 goal from Emily and the other 4 from Maddie, including easily the goal of the tournament where she came up with a Messi-esc run, taking on 4 players and then the goalkeeper before slotting into an empty net.
Even writing this doesn’t do this goal any justice, it was that good.
After their first win Rovers were still facing an uphill battle still needing 3 wins from 3.
They got another 2 wins on the bounce against the likes of Swindon Town winning 5-0 with Maddi Wilde on the score sheet again along with Emily and Kassia, also against Yeovil town who at this point were Rivals for the 4th spot that the Rovers were valiantly fighting for.
The girls beat Yeovil 3-1 and had almost completed what seemed impossible after the start of the day.
The final fixture was another progression rival against a well organised Plymouth side.
At first glance admittedly with the current way Rovers were playing and the technical ability of the squad, it seemed that we would walk through the game and earn a place in the semi-finals given the current euphoria of our three wins on the bounce.
However, our little fairy tale came to an end after throwing everything at Plymouth we came away with a 4-2 loss which, to be fair to Plymouth done very well to keep us at bay especially the Plymouth goalkeeper whose efforts were the difference in the game.
Rovers ended up coming 5th in the table and sadly didn’t progress into the semi-finals, despite the league position it has to be said that the effort of the players was excellent and they were really unlucky not to go through.
I would like to thank Claire Wyatt and the Bradley Stoke girl’s side for all of their efforts on the day it was thoroughly enjoyable and they should hold their heads high after the performances they had put in.
- RESERVES: Rovers To Take On Newport County In The Central League
- COMMUNITY: Bristol Rovers Ability Football Club