FOOTBALL: Holders Rugby Town Girls set to defend league cup title
Semi-final win earns place in Under 11s' final
U11s: AFC Leicester Girls 1 Rugby Town Girls 3On a bright but cold and blustery morning at Babington Academy in the Beaumont Leys area of Leicester, Rugby Town Girls U11s played AFC Leicester Girls U11s in the Leicester Girls League Cup Semi-Final, with a place in the final awaiting for the winner.
Rugby were reduced to eight players as Katie was unavailable, so the initial team set up was Jenna (GK) Rosie and Marley (Def), Jasmine, Holly and Madi (Mid) Lila (For) and Melissa starting on the bench.
The pitch was soggy with some standing water after the downpours but it never worried the teams as they both started the match playing good passing football and each team forged attacks, leading to several corners in the first few minutes, although Rugby were slightly better all over the park. Then in the 14th minute, following a hand ball, Jasmine’s free kick was buried in the Leicester goal 1-0.
Almost immediately Leicester struck back through an excellent attacking move and as Rugby struggled to clear the ball a shot found the top corner of the Rugby net for 1-1. The opposition were growing in confidence and a further attack led to a corner which was cleared by Madi. Melissa's speed up front led to a one-on-one but Leicester’s keeper was quick off her line thwarting another good attack.
Moments later a pass from Lila sent Madi through, whose pass to Jasmine was met with a firm strike and a cracking finish to take Rugby ahead 2-1. The match was very even and Rugby and Leicester both continued to attack with both keepers making great saves.
Holly, whilst making a good strong run, found Melissa who passed to Madi and a further corner resulted. Jasmine put a good ball into the penalty area which Madi met with a glancing header just going wide. A good passing move involving Marley, Madi, Melissa and Holly ended with a hard shot by Lila being well saved.
Further opposition attacks resulted in two corners in quick succession and Rugby had to maintain their concentration to defend well.
Lila’s tackle and pass sent Madi on another run up the right wing. Her pass found Jasmine in a good position on the edge of the box and her trademark bullet left-foot shot found the back of the net and secured her hat-trick, taking Rugby to 3-1.
The first half came to a close with Rugby attacking and shots from Lila and Jasmine were both well saved.
The second half ebbed and flowed with sound defensive work by Marley and Rosie. Marley did a sterling man marking job on their very skilful forward and Rosie covered very well when Marley pushed on, both making several vital interceptions. And when the defence was breached Jenna made a series of top class saves to thwart their efforts. Jenna was busier than usual but was always dependable when required to come out and smother the ball at Leicester’s feet when they got through. Some great goal kicks too, not easy in the strong wind.
For the majority of the second half both teams focused on attack with Rugby having efforts from Jasmine, Melissa, Lila, Madi and Holly unsuccessful but sometimes the passing from Rugby was sublime, starting from Jenna in goal and working it forward from the defence with quick accurate passing and it was a pleasure to watch.
Both teams were visibly tiring but Rugby were just edging the possession, when after a final Rugby change with Melissa replacing Lila and the match heading towards full time, an excellent passing move involving Madi, Marley and Melissa saw her fierce drive saved by an excellent Leicester keeper.
Shortly after the whistle went and a solid team display resulted in a place for Rugby Town Girls U11s in the Leicester Girls League Cup Final, where they will defend the cup they won last year. A great game of football to watch from the girls. Out of possession they worked extremely hard for each other to win the ball back and in possession they were confident enough to pass it around between themselves with quick one and two touch passing moves going forward.
Parents' Player – Holly (for her outstanding contribution in a number of positions)
Coaches' Player – Jasmine (not only for a superb hat-trick but for her continued hard work all over the pitch)
Thanks to both sets of supporters for showing respect and plenty of positive encouragement for both sides.