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School Sport: Essex girls book final spot

PUBLISHED: 15:18 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:18 27 April 2017

Action from Essex under-16 girls' clash with Kent (pic Robert Craven/essexfa.com)

Action from Essex under-16 girls' clash with Kent (pic Robert Craven/essexfa.com)

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Essex 3 Kent 1

A hat-trick by Yaz Cowley helped Essex Schools’ Under-16 girls beat Kent at Shenfield High School to book their place in the South-East England Schools FA (SEESFA) final against Bedfordshire.

Cowley netted three times in the second half to steer the hosts past their old adversaries, with Lucy Egan also missing a penalty.

Molly Agnew’s header had given Kent hope when she equalised with 10 minutes remaining, but Essex will have the opportunity to win the Victoria Dodds Trophy for the third time in four seasons.

Essex began the game on top, and Cowley attempted an effort from the edge of the area in the third minute which dropped inches over the crossbar.

A minute later Ellie Barra delivered a right-wing corner to the near post that flicked off Kent defender Sophie Spencer-Webb and onto the top of the crossbar.

Midfielders Beau Parker and Egan were controlling proceedings from the centre of the pitch and Parker’s 25-yard strike was saved by Kent custodian Grace Ware in the 13th minute, before Egan set up winger Courtney Parsons, who guided her effort from the edge of the penalty area wide of the far post.

Charlie-Mae Goad was the most threatening player for the visitors and drew a useful stop from Essex keeper Grace Staunton in the 22nd minute with a stinging shot from the left-hand side.

Parker and Egan then responded by combining well with a neat one-two before Egan whipped a shot wide of the left post.

The first-half action ended when Parsons twisted and turned inside the area before chipping across to Kelly Wealthall, who thumped against the woodwork.

Cowley’s follow-up effort was then deflected out for a corner, but she would not be denied early in the second period.

Almost straight from the restart, Egan spotted the space for Cowley to run into and lofted the ball down the inside-left channel for the forward to force the ball beyond Ware and bundle it over the line to put Essex in front.

Cowley went on to become an even more influential figure in the tie in the 47th minute as she led a breakaway from a Kent corner, picking out Barra for a shot that was well saved by Ware.

And with her next attack, Cowley forced the keeper to gather a 25-yard drive, before stabbing wide of the far post from Tilly Deacon’s excellent through ball.

Essex were moving the ball quickly up the field with swift passing as they sought to double their advantage and substitute Hannah Smith’s right-wing cross was met by Parker, whose deflected attempt was saved by Ware.

But the home side were presented with an even better opportunity to score in the 64th minute as Cowley exchanged passes with Parsons and saw a skidding strike saved at full stretch by Ware.

However, the referee had spotted a push on the striker and pointed to the penalty spot, only for Egan to fire off-target from 12 yards.

Ware went on to deny Parsons and Essex were made to pay for their profligacy when Agnew levelled in the 70th minute.

A long throw was delivered into the area from the right touchline and Parsons glanced the ball over Grace Staunton to make it 1-1.

Parity lasted a mere three minutes, though, as a long ball over the top picked out the run of Cowley, who controlled it and rounded Ware to tap into an unguarded net.

With four minutes remaining, Essex made sure of the victory as Cowley completed her treble, linking up impressively once again with Egan, who dumbfounded the Kent defence with an angled through ball.

Cowley beat Ware to slide her shot into the goal and there were no further scares for the home team, who could have added a fourth goal when Parsons delivered a rasping shot that needed to be blocked by Ware’s legs.

Essex will now be hoping to lift the Victoria Dodds Trophy for an eighth time when they face Bedfordshire later this season.

Essex: Grace Staunton (Sacred Heart), Lucy Edmeades (Shenfield High), Tilly Deacon (Fitzwimarc), Beau Parker (Barking & Dagenham College), Olivia Billson (Chelmer Valley), Maizi Garwood (Shenfield High), Kelly Wealthall (Bromfords), Lucy Egan (Philip Morant), Ellie Barra (Trinity Roman Catholic High), Yaz Cowley (Great Baddow High), Courtney Parsons (Caterham High). Substitutes (repeated): Holly Foley (Harris Academy Chafford Hundred), Hannah Smith (Plume Academy).


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