KING John School made a little bit of history by becoming the first school to win the under-16 girls football county cup for three successive years.
The current crop of youngsters ensured the school completed the hat-trick of Reg Winters Cup final wins in style by thumping Moulsham School 5-0 at Chigwell School.
Manager, Louise Parrott said:: “It’s really sweet this year. We’ve won it for the past two years, so doing the treble was our priority. The girls do deserve it; they’re an outstanding team.
“They got knocked out of the National Cup in the quarter-finals, unfortunately, but that shows how strong the group is. Of all the under 16s squads, this one has been the strongest throughout the under 13s and under 14s, so I knew that we’d have a good shot at winning it this year. The opposition were fantastic, and were probably one of the strongest teams we’ve played this season; we also knocked them out in the nationals.”
King John’s two previous finals had been edgy affairs with both occasions, against Oaks Park and Frances Bardsley, settled by a narrow 2-1 scoreline. However, they quickly moved into the ascendancy this time around as Sophie Jones looped the ball over Imogen Riches and into the top left-hand corner of the net inside the opening sixty seconds.
Moulsham goalkeeper Riches produced a superb fingertip save to stop Amy Pownall from adding to the advantage courtesy of Ellie Turner-Powell’s square pass in the 14th minute, whilst at the other end Chantelle Goodwin won the ball well in midfield before powering a half-volley narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Riches also gathered well when Turner-Powell delivered a shot on the turn just after the mid-point of the first half, but King John doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Antonia Tidy-Jones picked out Pownall on the right-hand side of the penalty area and her low shot was diverted home just inside the upright.
King John made a decisive break inside the final six minutes of the opening period, netting twice more through Essex Under 16s team-mates Turner-Powell and Jones. Turner-Powell was first to notch, beating Riches to a 34th minute through-ball to stab in before Jones added the fourth with a deflected 25-yard strike over the unlucky custodian five minutes later.
“We wanted to tie the game up as much as possible in the first half, and we did that with outstanding shots coming in from Sophie Jones who, in my opinion, was the player of the match. She is phenomenal on both feet, but they’ve all really grown together as a squad from Years 7 and 8 and they’re all fully deserving of this trophy,” Parrott said.
With King John having sped into a 4-0 half-time lead, the second period was much more even as Moulsham gave an excellent account of themselves. Louise Taylor could even have narrowed the deficit in the 54th minute, holding off a defender before forcing Kiera Tippett to turn the ball around the right-hand post.
Instead, King John grabbed a fifth just before the hour mark as player of the match Riches made an outstanding save to turn away Pownall’s curling finish, only for Amelia Stennett to react quickest to the loose ball and stab it into the bottom right-hand corner.
Riches made another good stop, pushing out Turner-Powell’s long-range effort from underneath her crossbar late on, but there was to be no denying King John from celebrating a unique hat-trick: “It’s really, really good for the girls. They’re a lovely bunch. They got through to the hockey final as well, but unfortunately they didn’t win that, so it was really special that they won today,” said boss Parrott.
“For our school, it’s absolutely fantastic. Girls’ football has grown so much in the last seven or eight years. It was pretty much non-existent when I started, so we’ve been building from scratch, but we’re now outdoing the boys in many aspects of the game. Girls’ football is definitely on the map at King John School,” she declared.
King John squad: Kiera Tippett, Amy Pownall, Jordan Castle, Ellie Turner-Powell, Hannah Watson, Maisie Legg, Nancy Vasey-Reed, Abbie Fox, Sophie Jones, Sophie England, Alice Boston, Christina Taylor, Antonia Tidy-Jones, Amelia Stennett, Ellen Taylor.