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Kirk Balk Academy represented Barnsley Football Club in the regional finals of the EFL U13’s Girls Cup on Wednesday afternoon.
The school did themselves proud with a third-place overall finish in the tournament in what was a stellar field of competition at Preston North End’s Community Trust.
Kirk Balk faced teams from Bolton, Nottingham and Stoke – who were the eventual winners of the tournament, defeating Bolton on penalties to progress to Wembley.
The tournament started in a round-robin style format, where each team played each other twice before a final league standing was established and the knockout stages began.
The Reds kicked off their campaign with an unfortunate 3-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers, before drawing 1-1 with Nottingham Forest and then going on to defeat Stoke City 2-0 to get their first three points on board.
During the second round of fixtures, the Reds got revenge on Bolton, impressively beating them 2-1. The girls then made it three victories in a row when they defeated Nottingham Forest 2-0 with a fantastic defensive display to earn a clean sheet. Kirk Balk then rounded off proceedings with a 3-1 defeat to Stoke in their last game of the group stage.
After all the points were tallied up from the six matches played, the Reds finished with a total of ten points and progressed to the knockouts where they set up a semi-final meeting with Stoke.
The semi-final proved to be a tight encounter. The Potters took an early lead but Barnsley hit back almost straight away to secure parity and take the game to penalties. It was a case of luck and nerve in the shoot-out. Barnsley were the first to step-up and miss, but Stoke converted to go ahead. The
Reds scored their second, as did Stoke, then were to miss their final spot-kick of the day, before Stoke scored again to win 3-1 on penalties.
Following heartbreak in the shoot-out, Kirk Balk were placed in the 3rd place play-off, where they deservedly rounded off their tournament with a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest.
Despite not progressing to the grand final at Wembley, Kirk Balk still improved on last years’ result by going one step further in the competition. Their road to the regional final was one of hard work, teamwork, commitment and desire. They first had to negotiate the local rounds by facing teams from the boroughs of Barnsley and Wakefield before winning the Area final in Huddersfield to get to the Northern Regionals in Preston.
Kirk Balk’s Head of Girls PE Katie Shepherd was incredibly proud of her girls.
She said: “I’m very proud of the girls. They haven’t been outplayed by any team, everyone on that pitch was of a similar ability. We lost the semi-final on penalties, we just needed that little bit of luck.
“I’m proud to represent Kirk Balk as part of Barnsley Football Club. We showed a lot of determination and we battled hard, it’s been a great experience.”