County girls reach national U16 schools final

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For the first time since the competition began 16 years ago, the Nottinghamshire U16 Girls squad have reached the National Final of the English Schools’ FA County Championship.

This will be played at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, the former home of Coventry City FC this Saturday with a 1.45pm kick-off.

After winning their Midlands mini-group of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire before Christmas by drawing 3-3 with the former and defeating Derbyshire 3-1, Nottinghamshire qualified for the national quarter-finals in which they faced Lancashire, who had been finalists in the two previous seasons.

After a long weather inflicted delay, the game was finally played on a 3G pitch at Wilford with Notts winning 3-1.

The side then travelled to Greater Manchester last week for the semi-final and despite trailing until the last kick of the match, Notts eventually went through to the final on penalties 7-6 after a 2-2 draw which included extra time.

Nottinghamshire opponents in Saturday’s final will be Essex, who had impressive 4-0 and 6-0 wins in their matches in the last eight and the semi-final, but the fighting spirit Notts showed in their games should stand them in good stead.

Notts include three players with international caps in their line-up; captain Charlotte Steggles represented England Schools’ U15s last season while striker Ellie Brazil scored twice last Saturday in England Schools’ 8-0 win over the Republic of Ireland.

Midfielder Ashleigh Plumptre was a member of the England U17 squad which played in the European Championship last November.

Their squad is: Olivia Walker (Retford Oaks School), Natalie Archer (Arnold Hill), Bethan Bough (Arnold Hill), Cala Thornton (Dagfa School), Charlotte Steggles (Sherwood Academy, Gedling), Holly Chambers (Carlton-le-Willows Academy), Esme Crosby (Arnold Hill), Molly Higgins (Trinity School), Alina Tebbutt (Becket Academy), Ashleigh Plumptre (Becket Academy), Ellie Brazil (Rushcliffe Academy), Zoe Gretton (West Bridgford School), Kelsie James (Toothill School, Bingham), Tiffany Elliott (Sherwood Academy), Lucy Belz (South Wolds Academy, Keyworth), Alana Crawford(Sherwood Academy, Gedling).