The England U15 Schoolgirls’ got their international season off to a winning start with a 2-1 victory over a formidable Aston Villa U15’s team. A late winner sent the England girls back to their camp at St Georges Park with smiles on their faces, eagerly awaiting the challenges ahead!
On a windy night at Aston Villa’s training complex the girls got off to the perfect start with Ella Baker’s turn and shot into the roof of the net in the opening minutes of the first period.
Lancashire’s Holly Tickle, wearing the captain’s armband, led by example at the heart of a stubborn England defence along with her centre half partner Holly Randall. The girls faced a talented Villa side happy to pass and move the ball quickly and full of energy out of possession.
Clear opportunities were few and far between, although both teams traded long range efforts that failed to find the target, with the midfield being where most of the action was as Cecily Wellesley-Smith and Emily Cassap made their presence felt in a physical encounter.
The game was played over 3 periods of 30 minutes to ensure plenty of opportunity to change things around and just before the end of the first period Ella Stowell tipped a Villa shot around the post to deny the hosts an equaliser.
Ashleigh Ridsel-Harrison was quick off her line to dive at the feet of a Villa forward when she took the gloves in the second period but the England girls had certainly settled into the game and were able to keep possession for longer spells, albeit with neither side creating many clear chances.
Villa were able to drive home an equaliser in the final period after a defensive error gave possession away and the striker took full advantage and it would be hard to argue they didn’t deserve it.
Just when it looked like the game would end with a draw, up popped Taya Pomfret to score the winner with just a few minutes to play and secure a win to kick off the girls’ international careers.
The result and performance were excellent for the girls considering it was their first fixture together and you could certainly see them grow more into the game despite still developing the understanding of their team mates and dealing with the nerves and adrenaline that comes with making your England debut.
A massive thanks to Aston Villa for hosting and for providing an excellent, competitive fixture played in an excellent spirit. The match provided plenty of food for thought for manager Sian Williams who made the most of the opportunity to try players in different roles throughout the game.
Thanks also to the parents who came along to show their support on a cold and windy night in the Midlands.
Next up for the squad is a fixture with the Independent Schools FA representative side in March at Charterhouse School before their competitive matches in the Bob Docherty Cup during the Easter break.
To purchase any photos from the game, please contact ThreeFiveThree Photography. For any media enquiries please contact Jacob Blades on Jacob.Blades@schoolsfa.com.
The National Governing Body for Schools’ Football in England.