Coaches of the best U-16 girls’ team in Wales believe their players deserve more recognition, writes Dave Jones.
Ian Morgan and John Bradley, who led Penrhyn Bay U-16s to a quadruple this season, feel their achievements have been wrongly overlooked by the powers-that-be.
“There are players in these teams that are overlooked, forgotten and are not getting recognised for the chance to represent their country,” said Morgan.
“The lack of a ‘well done’ or congratulations message or any recognition, interest at all from any of the U-15 and U-16 Wales coaches, and regional coaches is really deflating.”
Penrhyn Bay made it a four-timer on 18 May by winning the North Wales Coast FA U-16 Cup with a 2-0 victory over main rivals NFA in a fantastic final at St Asaph.
They had already won the North Wales Girls U-16 League title, League Cup and, the big one, the FAW U-16 Welsh Cup.
In the NWCFA final, an Anna Houghton penalty awarded for handball made it 1-0 at half time.
A fantastic save from NFA keeper Lucy Roberts denied a second and the post thwarted a sweet 25-yard strike on the half-volley from Mollie Roberts which deserved a goal.
The second half started much the same, again an outstanding save from Roberts and a string of excellent tackles and reading of the game from player of match Holly Rees in the NFA defence, depriving Bay of a second.
Eventually, excellent combination play between Elan Morgan and Ellie Bradley (both daughters of the coaches) on the edge of the box when the crowd were shouting shoot, resulted in a pinpoint cross for Bethan Vaughan to volley home for one of the team’s goals of the season.
A spirited last 10 minutes from NFA saw them on top and resulted in some long range shots which Penrhyn keeper Jen Thomas dealt with well.
The same two teams met a week before in the League Cup Final where Penrhyn came out 4-2 winners after taking a 4-0 first half lead.
The game was played on North Wales Girls League Finals Day at Penrhyn Bay FC with all age groups present, six finals at U-12 to U-16 and an U-8 to U-10 festival with more than 200 girls playing in a great environment.
Penrhyn Bay U-16 clinched the league with an 100% win record, but the highlight of the year was winning the Welsh Cup, the pinnacle for girls football in Wales at grassroots level, by beating Villa Dino Christchurch 3-2 in the final at Aberystwyth, Ella Jones bagging a hat-trick.
Speaking about the Welsh Cup success, Morgan added: “After getting through two tough games in North Wales, to then play three teams from South Wales and come out on top will hopefully stay with the girls for a long time and give them the self belief that you need in life.
“We had the pleasure of playing and meeting great players and coaches from Landore Colts and Briton Ferry in the Swansea area in the quarters and semi-finals and then everyone from Villa Dino Christchurch Newport in a great final.
“All the games were unbelievably close with nothing between the sides and a great advert for the female game. After talking to the coaches of the teams we’ve played, and seeing the talent in all the sides, it shows that our girls in North Wales are right up there.”
The NWCFA Cup final was the last junior game for nine players in the team, who move on to adult football with no U-18 league available.