Categories: General
      Date: 01/02/17
     Title: U16 Girls: Lancashire 1 Durham 2

Durham beat holders to make NCSFA final

Durham denied holders Lancashire the opportunity of reaching their seventh consecutive Northern Counties final, and possible sixth title, with a strong resolute semi-final performance. The win also earned the north-east county a place in the ESFA U16 Girls Inter-county Trophy.

This was only Lancashire’s second NCSFA defeat since Durham beat the Red Rose county in the 2010-11 final. The last time Lancashire were beaten in the Northern Counties was to Merseyside in a west league match during season 2012-13. A fantastic achievement.

Durham, having resisted Lancashire’s threats, opened the scoring in the 18th minute. A long ball was played into the penalty area. Beth White, under pressure from an advancing Lancashire keeper and covering defender, remained strong. Somehow, among the coming together, she managed to get her head to the ball to give Durham a confidence boosting opener.

Ten minutes later Ellie Gutcher almost made it 2-0 for the visitors. She cut in from the left then unleashed a right footed shot from 25m, which appeared destined for the top left corner, but hit the crossbar instead.

After the half time break Lancashire stepped up their efforts and were rewarded in the 50th minute when Maddie Hadley, who was constant threat with her pace, deservedly equalised.

Lancashire continued to press but the Durham defence held firm.

Durham scored the all-important winner with 15 minutes remaining. The visitors were awarded a free kick in their own half. To make it difficult for the visitors the Lancashire defence held a high line hoping to catch Durham offside. Jenny Ashton thwarted this move with a perfectly timed run to get ahead of the home defence, control the ball, round the keeper then roll the ball into the empty net.

Lancashire mounted a determined effort to keep their excellent run intact. In the final minutes, they had ample possession and always looked threatening when attacking but at any level the amount of possession does not always win football matches.

That Durham successfully denied Lancashire in the closing stages was due to fully committed performances by all the girls but special praise should go to Rachel Woolston, Alexis Prest, Melissa Storey and Natalie Clark for their sterling defensive work.