The Alvechurch Girls travelled to Bognor Regis this Bank Holiday weekend to participate in this year’s Butlins ESF 2019 Football Festival. It was a rollercoaster of a weekend for this exceptional team, competing against some very talented opposition the Girls ultimately finished runners up, losing only one game.
The Team of 2019
Harley, Ellie, Eliza, Jess, Lily-Rose, Grace, Darcy, Kiely, Mia and Amelia.
The format was 9v9, 16 minutes each way.
Day One-Game One
Alvechurch Academy v AFC Leyton Girls
The air was electric and excitement levels peaked as these two teams kicked off. Leyton came out fighting hard and set a blistering pace. The Alvechurch Girls struggled to keep up as Leyton pushed with all they had for an early goal. It wasn’t long before they got their wish as five minutes into the first half their number 18 smashed a cracking goal past Harley to open the scoreline 1-0. This seemed to wake Alvechurch up and they began hammering back with solid shots at goal from Ellie and Lily-Rose that were both expertly saved. 13 minutes in and Alvechurch equalised with a trademark power strike from Ellie that smashed past the helpless Leyton Keeper. Just before half time Alvechurch’s Kiely managed to thunder a shot at goal, but the Leyton keeper made a spectacular save finishing the first half level 1-1. The second half started as action packed as the first with end to end action, both teams were determined to take the lead. The atmosphere was incredibly tense, Ellie managed to get a cracking shot off that sadly went wide, and Leyton’s number 3 also sent a trailblazing strike wide of the post. During a tense moment Alvechurch’s Grace showed tremendous composure during a goalmouth scramble, Grace found herself unmarked with a clear shot at goal and she did not disappoint, she hammered the ball past the Leyton keeper putting Alvechurch firmly in the lead. With a minute to the final whistle, Alvechurch’s Mia found herself 5 yards into Leyton’s half with time on the ball, she composed herself, and following screams from manager Scott Wilkinson to ‘SHOOT!’ she launched a thunderous strike that went straight into the top left corner of Leyton’s goal!! Final score 3-1
Day One-Game Two
Alvechurch Academy v Crawley United
Pumped after the opening game victory, the Alvechurch Girls came out swinging, and this time they set a blistering pace of their own. The first half saw both these very talented and quite evenly matched teams battle hard, both showing exceptional defending with notable performances from Eliza and Darcy.. A solid shot from Alvechurch’s Amelia sadly soared over the crossbar, and following an excellently delivered corner ball, Crawley’s number 9 smashed a solid shot that spurned a fantastic save by Harley. Still 0-0 in the second half, Crawley came out fighting and we saw credible shots at goal from their number 15 and number 9, that both just went wide of the post. Alvechurch’s Lily-Rose managed to get a good shot off but the Crawley keeper showed she had what it takes and confidently saved the shot. 10 minutes into the second half Alvechurch’s Mia, having scored the final wondergoal at the end of the last game, found herself in a similar position this time around 10 yards into Crawley’s half. She once again smashed a trailblazing unstoppable strike that took the Crawley keeper completely by surprise, the ball screeching into the back of the Crawley net putting Alvechurch into the lead. 1-0 Alvechurch kept the momentum going and pushed forward, Kiely hit the crossbar with a tremendous strike, Lily-Rose and Amelia had excellent shots expertly saved, and a power shot from Ellie was send back out into play by the Crawley keeper, only to be picked up again by Kiely who sadly sent her follow up shot wide of the post. Final score 1-0
Day One-Game Three
Alvechurch Academy v Colebrook Royals
The last game of day one got under way and each team appeared just as determined as each other to win. The pace was incredible and produced some of the best performances of the day. Alvechurch’s Lily-Rose got an early shot in but it went just wide of the post. Colebrook’s talented number 3 took a cracking shot that was confidently saved by Harley. Lily-Rose got a second chance at goal following one of Kiely’s superhuman long throws into the Colebrook box, but again her shot frustratingly went wide. An extremely tense moment arose during a close Alvechurch goalmouth scramble, but fortunately the ball was eventually cleared. The action was unrelenting as these two teams fought tooth and nail to take the lead. Just before half time a series of throws for Alvechurch were efficiently cleared by the defiant Colebrook defenders. The third throw once again sailed into the Colebrook box, only this time Alvechurch’s Ellie managed to get her head to it and with 1 minute left of the first half, she scored the opening goal and put Alvechurch into the lead 1-0. The second half again started fast, within seconds Alvechurch made a spectacular run that resulted in solid shot from Lily-Rose being safely secured by the talented Colebrook keeper.. Soon another of Kiely’s throws was confidently headed past the Colebrook keeper by striker Ellie scoring her second header of the game and increasing Alvechurch’s lead to 2-0. Desperate for a goal Lily-Rose powered another shot wide and a second just over the crossbar. Following the tradition of sending throws into the Colebrook box, Kiely once again sent an awe inspiring throw to Ellie, who finding herself marked by two competent defenders, somehow managed an pull off an over head kick that smashed into the back of the Colebrook net scoring her hattrick and increasing Alvechurch’s lead in spectacular form to 3-0. Alvechurch’s Jess sent a cracking shot that was sadly deflected by the keeper, the deflected ball was picked up by Mia who’s shot went wide. Following an incredible forward ball from Alvechurch defender Eliza, Kiely managed to break through two defenders before using the outside of her foot to place the ball past the Colebrook keeper to increase the score to 4-0. Another ambitious strike from Mia got everyone’s attention once more, when she smashed a breathtaking shot from around the halfway line that unfortunately just clipped the crossbar to go wide. Final score 4-0
Day Two-Game One
Alvechurch academy v Ruislip Rangers
As with all the games this weekend, Sundays first game started at a blistering pace. The Ruislip keeper was tested early by Alvechurch’s Mia and secured the ball effectively. Then two minutes in Ellie smashed the ball past the Ruislip keeper to open the scoreline 1-0. Ellie returned for another crack at goal but this time the keeper had it covered. One of Kiely’s throws made it into the box where Jess connected well but sent the ball wide of the post. Some confusion over whether the ball had gone out of play caused the Alvechurch girls to hesitate momentarily, which gave the Ruislip Girls a window of opportunity and their number 20 sent a cracking shot past Harley to equalise 1-1. The second half began, and it wasn’t long before a corner ball expertly delivered by Lily-Rose was headed wide by Kiely. Soon after Amelia made a break but her shot was confidently saved. Desperate for a goal Amelia returned, this time she broke through two Ruislip defenders in spectacular form, before confidently smashing a power shot deep into the Ruislip net putting Alvechurch back firmly into the lead. Ruislip countered with a series of fantastic runs that eventually payed off with a great goal from their number 7 once again equalising 2-2. The last kick of the game was an impressive solid volley strike from Lily-Rose, after one of Kiely’s throws was headed on by Ellie. Lily’s strike powered toward goal but the Colebrook keeper made a very impressive save. Final score 2-2
Day Two-Game Two
Alvechurch Academy v Billericay Town
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!
It all came down to this final showdown with last year’s Champions Billericay. Only a win would secure a spot at the top of the group. Everything was at stake as these two teams went to war with each other. An early shot at goal from Amelia went wide, and a free kick for Billericay within striking distance also went wide of the post. Mia tested the Billericay keeper with one of her trademark trailblazing strikes but the talented Billericay keeper pulled off a sensational save. Shots from Lily-Rose and Amelia both went wide as Alvechurch pushed hard for the first goal. Both teams showcased some excellent defensive play, but a goal seemed imminent at either end of the pitch. Spectacular defending from Eliza, Darcy and Jess kept Billericay at bay. Before the first half ended a series of Billericay free kicks all went wide of the Alvechurch goal. The second half started, and it was now Billericay’s time to ramp up the pressure. Early shots at goal from numbers 16 and 4 went wide, then a corner ball perfectly delivered by Billericay’s number 8 was received by number 6 who managed to place the ball past Harley putting the reigning champions firmly in the lead. Alvechurch tried desperately to equalise but the solid Billericay defence thwarted attack after attack. In the dying minutes, credible shots from Ellie, Kiely and Mia sadly amounted to nothing and the final whistle blew 1-0.
A bitter defeat for the Alvechurch Girls who had set this tournament alight with their sheer dominance throughout the weekend, they should be immensely proud of their performance. They are certain to return next year and prove themselves credible contenders. In reality, the football was only one part of the weekend, the Girls have had a great time and have created new memories that will surely last a lifetime. The parents however, will have certainly experienced some alcohol induced memory loss that will hopefully resurface over the coming weeks.