Calderdale Schools Under-15s have scaled new heights after earning a home tie in the semi-finals of the ESFA National Cup against either Liverpool or Sunderland.
Having already got further in the competition than any previous Calderdale representative team, the players were outstanding in beating Aston and Erdington Schools 3-1 at Elland CC on Saturday.
The visitors from the midlands featured players from academies across the Birmingham area.
Calderdale started quickly and really took the game to Aston, forcing a couple of early chances which were well saved by the keeper.
Travis Atherton then fired Calderdale into the lead on 20 minutes after a great pass from Alex Mather. Atherton doubled the lead five minutes later when he rounded the keeper and coolly finished.
Calderdale were now in full flow and Aston were struggling to contain them. Just before half time they went into a 3-0 lead when Mather lobbed the advancing keeper.
The second half was very tough for the home side as Aston started to dominate. However, James Woods was in fine form in the Calderdale goal and made a number of fine saves, protected by a ‘brick wall like’ defence.
The central midfield of Ciaran Bourne and captain Matthew Weston worked tirelessly but Calderdale were finally undone when Aston scored a consolation goal with 10 minutes left. Manager Nigel Kaye’s side regrouped and saw the game out to the delight of a big crowd.
The semi-final is likely to be at Elland CC on Saturday, March 30 (11am) and the final will be at Stoke City in May.
Paul McDonnell, who runs the Calderdale Schools teams with Dave Weston, said: “This team continue to rise to the challenges that are put in their way.
“ Whilst we never expected to get this far in the competition, we felt confident on Saturday even though our opponents had beaten Manchester Boys in the last round.
“ Whatever happens now, to be in the last four in the country we are immensely proud of and thanks to all of the Calderdale schools and Elland CC for their continued support.”