Under 12s Academy Juniors 1 Preston North End 2

Squad: Leah, Eve, Abbie, Emily, Rebecca, Kalantha, Caley, Lauren

Preston made the trip to Bromley Cross for their last game of the season – a rearranged fixture against Academy Juniors.

Academy started brightly and Preston had to weather a series of corners. Then, the two teams exchanged shots on goal – Academy’s effort saved well after a neat passing move, and Preston’s a lofted shot from range from Lauren well saved by the keeper.

Shortly afterwards it was the other way around – North End keeper Leah was called upon to save a long range effort before Kalantha rounded off a good passing move by testing the Academy keeper.

After an even start to the game, Preston started to get a grip of the game and should have opened their account. Eve chased down a seemingly lost ball, beat the defender and crossed from the left but Abbie’s shot was saved and Rebecca couldn’t turn in the rebound. Then a fine passing move involving Lauren and Emily culminated in another effort from Abbie saved by the keeper.

Academy Juniors certainly looked capable of breaking the deadlock but didn’t trouble Leah too often due to a series of good interceptions and decisive tackles from Caley. Restricted to long shots, Academy almost got the breakthrough when a miscued shot looped high in the air and forced Leah into an awkward save.

By now Preston had settled into their stride and looked the likeliest to score and when Eve won the ball on the wide right and played in Rebecca one on one with the keeper and in acres of space, they seemed certain to score. But Rebecca didn’t realize how much time she had and stabbed her shot into the side netting.

The rest of the first half chances fell to Preston. Lauren latched onto a corner from Emily and struck well with her left only to see her shot saved. Lauren later layed on for Rebecca who again found the side netting, and Kalantha struck well from distance but just wide. Abbie rounded off the half with a long shot which rebounded into Lauren’s path, Lauren only able to strike a defender with her shot.

Half Time 0-0

It was more of the same as the second half kicked off, with Rebecca entertaining the Preston support with a run which started on the half way line. She nutmegged a defender before shrugging off several challenges on her way into the penalty area. The run deserved a goal but her shot was blocked and Abbie’s follow up effort went wide right.

The goal had been coming and with only minutes of the second half gone, Kalantha picked the ball up in a central position. Running diagonally away from goal, she struck a lovely shot across the keeper and high into the opposite side netting – a great goal.

Any suggestion that the flood gates would open was soon dispelled by Academy as they went straight down the other end and looked certain to equalize – only the most perfectly timed tackle from Emily taking the ball off the foot of the striker as she was about to shoot.

Leah and Lauren saw their efforts saved – Leah’s a long shot turned out for a corner, and Lauren’s a neat chip from the resulting corner just over the bar.

Academy Juniors were still well in the game and should again have equalized when their striker found herself unmarked and in on goal but shot over. Another shot found the side netting.

Emily was having some success picking up the scraps from corners – on a number of occasions she was perfectly positioned to pick up on clearances and on each of these occasions showed us the goal threat that she presents, her long shots warming the hands of the Academy keeper on more than one occasion. And it was to be Emily’s endeavor in that area that lead to Preston’s second goal. Following a clearance from a corner, Emily picked up the ball and unleashed a long shot through the mass of players in the penalty area. Emily’s shot struck the post leaving Kalantha with the simple task of tapping in for 2-0.

Preston could have had another when Rebecca worked herself a shooting position but could only shoot into the keeper’s arms.

Academy Juniors got onto the score sheet with 5 minutes to go – their classy No 8 topping off a very accomplished performance with a goal. She won her tussle with the Preston defender to break free and shoot high into the roof of the net at the near post.

But it wasn’t to be a grandstand finish – Preston saw out the final exchanges with all the possession and never really looked like giving up their winning position.

Rebecca tussled with a defender late on before unleashing a long shot which rebounded off the keeper into Abbie’s path but Abbie shot into the keeper’s arms.

Lauren freed Rebecca for one last attempt. Rebecca fought her way to the byeline and tried to cross for Kalantha who was unmarked on the penalty spot, but the cross was knocked out for a corner. The ref blew up for full time when the corner was taken – Final Score, 2-1 to the visitors.

Kalantha was named Girl of the Game by the home side, with her opposite number 8 and the Keeper sharing the accolade for Academy Juniors – all well deserved!

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