ESFA Internationals, featured

England U15 Schoolgirls fall just short of a comeback against their Scottish counterparts

A tough afternoon in the sun drenched north east as England’s 2019/20 Under 15 schoolgirls came up just short of snatching a draw in their final international fixture against Scotland. 

With a large crowd in attendance at Cochrane Park, both teams came out looking to attack and, despite a lack of clear chances in the opening exchanges, there was absolutely no doubt about the commitment from both teams with the feisty challenges that we expect from a match between these two great rivals, at any level of football.

That is not to say that there were no moments of quality. A delectable exchange between Rebecca Ferguson and Megan Sofield for the hosts, almost saw the latter through on goal. Ferguson also missed an opportunity to break the deadlock when a loose clearance from Scotland keeper, Ava Easdon fell at her feet 30 yards from goal – but her attempted lob cleared the bar.

Easdon smothered the ball at the feet of Delphi Cole, as the winger looked through on goal but the visitors also looked dangerous going forward. They broke the deadlock on 18 minutes when a surging run down the right from Eilidh Austin saw her cross for Olivia Potter, who smashed it home from 6 yards out.

This marked a period of pressure from Scotland, who could have added to their lead. However, they were grateful to their skipper, Kirsty MacLean who blocked a shot from Tori Almond, after an exchange of passes with Elle Elkins – just inside the visitor’s box – looked to have created an opening.

Almond’s looping overhead shot was the final chance of the first 40 minutes for the hosts, but her effort fell just wide of the post and Scotland went in with a deserved 1-0 half time lead.

It didn’t take long for Scotland to double their advantage at the start of the second half. Just two minutes had elapsed when Mikayla Wildgoose was adjudged to have fouled Emma Watson as she looked to create some space for shot in the box, and it was Watson herself who converted the spot kick for a 2-0 lead.

England now had a mountain to climb against a tough Scotland defence, Ferguson’s free-kick just avoided all attacking players in the box with Annalisa McCann collecting amongst a mass of white shirts. At the other end, Sophia Poor made a brave save at the feet of Sophia Martin to deny the striker a chance.

England Captain, Wildgoose made amends for her role in the penalty with a double goal line clearance, denying Niamh Noble and then Tiree Burchill after Sophia Poor was left stranded outside her box. Just moments later, Georgia Gray saw her shot from just inside the box whistle past Poor’s far post.

Scotland’s tails were up and they certainly looked in control, but the hosts grabbed a lifeline when Lucy Cooper was adjudged to have been fouled by Madilyn Wilson. Poppy Pritchard cooly slotted home to half the arrears with just over 10 minutes to go.

Pritchard was then denied by McCann after a fantastic through ball from Ferguson and moments later, a cross from Elkins found Sofield who got a shot away but narrowly wide of the far post.

McCann denied Pritchard again before the England number 9 missed a golden chance to level the game, when a cross from Elkins found her unmarked at the back post. However, she put her shot agonisingly wide with the goal at her mercy.

The final chance for England fell to Sofield, who saw her free-kick from the edge of the box sail just over the crossbar, leaving the Scottish players celebrating a deserved victory on the day, albeit after a frantic last 15 minutes from England.

Credit to both sides for a truly entertaining game of football, the parents and schools of the girls on show can be rightly proud of their achievements and the cap presentations that followed the game marked the end of this extended international programme for the girls – we certainly look forward to seeing their progress as footballers and young women in years to come.

A big thank you to ESFA photographer, Garry Griffiths from 353 photography for capturing the game and writing this report. A gallery from the game will be available shortly.

ESFA Internationals, featured

England Schoolgirls & Schoolboys take to the pitch this weekend

The England U15 Schoolgirls and England U18 Schoolboys are back in action this weekend as both squads travel up to Newcastle for their fixtures. The Girls face their Scottish counterparts on Saturday 5th June and the Boys play Harrogate Town U19’s in a friendly fixture on Sunday 6th June.

The England U15 Schoolgirls will attempt to continue their successful return to football this weekend after beating a strong Wales U15 side last month. They travel to Cochrane Park in Newcastle for a friendly game against their Scottish counterparts this Saturday 5th June. The match will kick off at 3pm and will be live-streamed on our YouTube channel ESFA TV with full match commentary. The girls will also be collecting their international caps after the game, a special moment for all involved.

The England U18 Schoolboys return to playing football for the first time since the pandemic put an end to their 2019/2020 season. They also travel north to Newcastle and play their fixture at Longbenton Sports Ground at Newcastle University. They face Harrogate Town FC U19’s in a friendly which kick’s off at 3pm on Sunday 6th June. The match will be live-streamed on our Youtube channel ESFA TV and the boys will also be collecting their international caps after the game am immensely proud moment for the boys and their families.

Both International squads saw an anti-climatic end to the 2019/2020 season with the pandemic cancelling both the Bob Doherty Cup for the girls and the Centenary shield for the boys. The squads had recently got back from their international tour of Eindhoven thanks to the guys at InspireSport and were ready to go for their end of season competitive fixtures. These friendly fixtures aim to bring these talented squads back together and give them the opportunity to end their international campaigns in style. We are extremely excited to see both squads pull on their England shirts sponsored by Utilita and remind us of what they can do.

Make sure you stay tuned on our social media channels (@schoolsfootball) for more information on the international squads as well as in match updates from this weekends fixtures.