Ben Rhydding girls clnch North title after coming in as late replacements

Ilkley Gazette: Ben Rhydding under-12 girls. Top of pyramid: Jemima Jagger. Second row: Alicia Cumberland, Imogen Sunman, Lillaby Morse. Bottom row: Evie Ramsbottom, Rachel Scott, Evie Malir, Gabrielle Pope.  Front: Freya Bellamy Ben Rhydding under-12 girls. Top of pyramid: Jemima Jagger. Second row: Alicia Cumberland, Imogen Sunman, Lillaby Morse. Bottom row: Evie Ramsbottom, Rachel Scott, Evie Malir, Gabrielle Pope. Front: Freya Bellamy

Ben Rhydding girls were celebrating on Sunday after qualifying for the National under-12 finals for the second-successive year.

A late cancellation by another team saw Ben Rhydding invited to take their place in the North finals and they made the most of the opportunity to emerge as champions.

The first game against Kirkby Lons-dale saw Ben Rhydding start nervously, but they pulled themselves together and went ahead with a goal by Imogen Sunman after good work by Gabby Pope.

Kirkby Lonsdale responded and threw everything into the attack, snatching a deserved late equaliser.

Next up were Deeside and by this time Rhydding were firmly in control, goals from Jemima Jaggar, Lillaby Morse and Evie Malir securing a 3-0 victory.

Old rivals York were always going to prove stern opposition, but Ben Rhydd-ing put themselves firmly in the driving seat early on as Sunman bagged her second goal of the day, latching onto a neat pass from Malir.

Tireless running from Jagger kept the York defence under constant pressure and soon Gabby Pope extended the lead, slapping the ball home from close range.

York responded strongly, and reduced the deficit from a well-worked short corner routine but goalkeeper Freya Bellamy ensured they didn’t deny Rhydding of their win.

Rhydding ensured their place in the semi-finals as group winners with a 2-0 success against the Isle of Man side Vikings thanks to goals by Sunman and Jaggar. Standing between Rhydding and a place in the final were old foes Wakefield.

The first half belonged to Wakefield, who threw everything at the Ilkley defence but failed to find a breakthrough as Bellamy made some crucial saves.

Sunman and Jagger both went close in the second half but the game finished goalless and went to penalty flicks.

Malir and Pope scored before Bellamy made a crucial Wakefield flick, leaving Rachel Scott to seal victory.

The final saw Rhydding facing York again and they clinched the North title with a 1-0 win, courtesy on an early goal from Scott who converted a Malir short corner.

Their reward is a trip to Cannock in May, where they will join the nine other qualifiers at the National finals.

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