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CHAMPIONS!

 

Hugglescote Belles have been crowned champions of North West Leicestershire after winning the annual girls’ football tournament held at Ashby Ivanhoe Football Club.

Drawn in a strong-looking qualification group, including last year’s champions; Broom Leys, the Belles had to be at their very best to taste the success that had eluded them in previous years.

The first group match against Broom Leys was heavily dominated by Hugglescote. Wave after wave of attack was repelled by a stubborn Broom Leys rear-guard; despite the best efforts of Hannah and Lauren Finney in the Belles’ midfield. However, in the dying moments, a long throw from the right was scrambled in at the near post by Lucy Clelland to give Hugglescote a perfect start to their campaign.

Next up was Whitwick St. John. A more open match produced some exciting football from both sides but, as before, Hugglescote took the spoils. Amye Leeland, making her Belles debut, turned her marker on the half-way line and sprinted clear (in a Vardy-esque manner) to place a firm shot past the despairing dive of the ‘keeper. The points were secured shortly afterwards when Hannah Finney forced a loose ball over the goal line to send the Belles’ fans into raptures.

The following match against Packington School saw Hugglescote face a determined defence who, time after time, found ways to frustrate the likes of Tierney Ball and Clelland with telling touches and last-gasp interceptions. However, it was Hannah Finney, once again, who proved to be the difference. With the last kick of the game, she found the bottom corner of the net with a crisp left-footed strike after the defence had been distracted by an intelligent run from Megan Brooks.

Finney was the scorer of the only goal in the final group match as well. Resolute Woodcote hearts were broken when Ball hit a firm cross-shot that the ‘keeper could only parry into the path of the on-rushing Finney, who made no mistake from a yard out.

The semi-final saw Hugglescote take on Ashby Hilltop School. With the Belles visibly tiring from the exertions of a tough qualifying group, Hilltop might consider themselves unlucky not to have won through to the final by enjoying the lion’s share of possession and the better of the goal scoring opportunities. However, football is a team game and in the same way Hugglescote’s attacking prowess saw them top the qualifying group, it was their miserly defence that triumphed here. The outfield combination of Megan Toon, Alice Rippin and Rebecca ‘Don’t Panic!’ Wells and the exceptionally assured Lottie Dawson in goal proved an impenetrable barrier that the Arsenal team of the 90s would have been proud of. With time up and no goals scored, penalties proved to be the only way to separate the two sides.

The tension was high. Both teams looked nervous but it was the irrepressible Lauren Finney and Leeland who secured a 2-1 lead for the Belles before Dawson produced what would become trademark heroics to keep out four Hilltop penalties and earn Hugglescote’s place in the final. 

The final, against Sir John Moore School, was a nervy affair with both teams exhausted from tough matches on a strength-sapping pitch. Once again, Hugglescote’s defence held firm and, once again, penalties were required.

Fresh from their successful shoot-out in the semi-final, the Belles looked confident. This confidence was well-placed as both of the Finneys, Clelland and Leeland converted in style, leaving Dawson to seal the victory with two more exceptional stops.

As sweet as the victory proved, it was the manner in which the Belles conducted themselves throughout the afternoon that was the highlight. Always respectful to their opponents and officials whilst being supportive to their teammates; the true embodiment of winning gracefully.

The Belles will now progress to representing North West Leicestershire in the County Finals, later in the year.

 

Squad: (L-R) Lauren Finney, Amye Leeland, Lucy Clelland, Alice Rippin, Lottie Dawson (captain), Megan Brooks, Hannah Finney, Tierney Ball, Rebecca Wells, Megan Toon.

Hugglescote Community Primary School

Hugglecote Community Primary School
Ashburton Road
Hugglescote
Coalville
Leicestershire

Tel: 01530 832721


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