The U11 girls’ football team returned to St Bedes on Friday to compete in the AJIS Football Festival. Ten teams were in attendance and whilst some started ad as favourites, the competition was also wide open in many ways. Bridgewater got off to a dream start against hosts St Bedes, with Freya firing in a left foot screamer into the bottom of the net after only 20 seconds. The lead was doubled moments later when Ellen ran through the hapless defenders to poke past the advancing keeper. Ellen added her second and sealed a 3-0 victory in the closing minutes of the game, to get the girls off to the perfect start in the group stages.
However, this was to be the team’s first and only victory as Bridgewater proceeded to create and spurn a string of chances in the next three games. Manchester HSG were up next and Bridgewater totally dominated the game from start to finish. Ellen controlled the midfield, whilst Molly and Dina snuffed out MHSG attacks with ease. Holly, Freya and Evie all had half chances to score, whilst Ellen and Jess went close on several occasions. Molly had a brilliant run from her own area to the opposition area, but her shot was deflected narrowly wide of the post. With a draw seemingly inevitable, MGHS broke free and there was nothing that keeper Emma could do to stop the ball going into the back of the net and give MGHS an undeserved 1-0 win.
Next up were one of the favourites for the tournament, the so far free scoring Newcastle- under- Lyne. This game brought out the best in the Bridgewater team, as the game ebbed and flowed as both teams sent down wave of attack after attack. Molly and Dina were magnificent in defence and ensured that Bridgewater took a point from the game, with a very satisfying 0-0 draw. To put the performance into perspective, Newcastle went onto lose the final to Cheadle Hulme 1-0 , showing that the Bridgewater team were very much in the hunt and on another day, who knows what may have happened.
In the final group game, Bridgewater needed a win to have any chance of a semi final place. The girls played with passion and plenty of enthusiasm and went chasing the win. Nyla chased down every player in midfield, Jess and Freya joined her in ensuring that Bridgewater dominated possession. Bury Grammar had beaten Bridgewater two weeks earlier in a challenge match, but in this game they were no match for Bridgewater. Incredibly, the bad luck the team had experienced in front of goal in previous games continued and despite a number of great opportunities, the Bury net remained intact. The chance of the game fell to Ellen who stormed her way through the heart of the Bury midfield and defence only to see her effort crash off the post and away to safety. The opposition players and managers could not believe they had earned a point and the girls were left to wonder what might have been!
The final game of the day saw a tired Bridgewater team lose fifth place to a very big set of players from The Grange. Overall, the team can be very proud of their performance and they certainly earned the right to a handful of biscuits for the journey home!