On Thursday 13th January 2022 Lytham St Annes High School represented Blackpool FC in the Northwest area finals of the EFL girls cup which was for girls in year 7 and 8.
The journey for this group of girls started a couple of months earlier when they competed in Blackpool’s local tournament where they went on to win the tournament without conceding a goal all day. This gave them the chance to go on and represent Blackpool FC in the next round, which was to be held in Preston.
10 teams came together on the day from all over the region with Blackpool, Preston North End, Fleetwood Town, Morecambe, Carlisle, Barrow, Tranmere, Salford City, Stoke City and Port Vale all competing for the chance to progress in the competition, and become one of four teams who would go head to head in the next round for the chance to play at Wembley.
The girls started the day as they ended the last tournament, and quickly became one of the tournaments teams to watch when they comprehensively defeated tournament hosts Preston North End in their first game before going on to play games against each and every team in the tournament and putting on equally impressive performances throughout.
Just after the lunch break we played against Fleetwood Town, who themselves had put in equally impressive performances against the other opposition. After a quick start, the Blackpool girls found themselves to be 3-0 up at the halfway point in the match. Things quickly changed and Fleetwood began to put pressure on, and despite some strong defending and a lot of hard work, Fleetwood managed to find an equaliser in the last minute of the game. Blackpool finished the group stage with an impressive record of played 9, won 8 and drawn 1 having amassed a goal difference of more than +40.
The top four teams then progressed to the semi-finals which meant that Blackpool took on 4th placed Preston North End and the other semi-final comprised of teams from Fleetwood and Carlisle who had both impressed over the course of the mornings group stages. Blackpool’s game against Preston was a much closer affair than in the group stages, with Blackpool even going a goal down around a minute or so into the game. It wasn’t long before Blackpool were back in the goals, and by the time the final whistle went, Blackpool had managed to get themselves a couple of goals in front to earn a place in the final.
The final was to be played against an impressive Carlisle team, who had managed to hold off an equally impressive Fleetwood Town team in a closely contested semi-final to book their place in the final.
This game started off at a frantic pace even though both teams clearly had tired legs after a long day of football. Carlisle took the lead when one of their two impressive and lively forwards fired the ball into the back of the net off the underside of the bar following a shot from distance.
Blackpool quickly fired back and made it 1-1 before Carlisle hit back once more taking a shock 2-1 lead at the half way point. It was at this point that we needed a player to step up and be counted, and just as she had throughout the day, it was team captain Jess who equalised and scored a further two goals, meaning that a hat trick in the final was enough to secure a 4-2 victory and send the girls through to the regional Northern finals which are due to take place in a months time.
This capped off a fine day from the whole team, and a special mention to Jess, who comfortably scored more than 30 goals over the course of the day.
Blackpool’s Community Youth Sport Manager, and representative of the club on the day said, “The girls were absolutely excellent throughout the entire day, and despite a few nervy moments especially late in the day, really deserved the victory that they achieved. The entire team were an absolute credit to themselves, their school and the football club and behaved impeccably throughout. It says a lot when you have opposition, parents and players coming up to you throughout the day to offer their compliments on the girls performances and ability levels”.
The girls will now progress to the next round, which takes place in February, where they hope to go one further and book their place at Wembley in April.