National Cup: Run ends at semi-finals
Calderdale Schools Under-15s’ superb run in the National Cup came to an end at the semi-final stage when they lost 3-2 to Sunderland at Brighouse Town.
A final at Stoke City in May was the prize for the winners of a game which ebbed and flowed in front of a crowd of more than 200.
Calderdale started brightly and took the lead on 20 minutes when Travis Atherton got clear of the Sunderland defence to finish smartly into the corner of the goal.
The Calderdale lads then really took the game to the visitors and Atherton, Alex Mather and the athletic Ciaran Bourne caused lots of problems for the Sunderland defence.
However, 10 minutes before the interval Sunderland equalised with a well-taken goal and they finished the half well.
Manager Nigel Kaye re-gathered his troops and the home side came out firing. Matty Weston was pulling the strings in midfield and another through ball for Atherton resulted in another class finish and Calderdale were ahead again.
The jubilation was short lived as Sunderland went down the other end and were awarded a penalty when their dangerous left winger was adjudged to have been clipped. The penalty gave keeper James Wood no chance.
With 20 minutes left a Calderdale free-kick from Atherton hit the underside of the bar and bounced down onto the line.
Sunderland, who included several academy players and an England under-16 international, were getting stronger but found Seb Winstanley and Josh Harrison colossuses at the back.
It was a corner that finally undid Calderdale with nine minutes left, a great header at the back post beating everybody.
Organisers Paul McDonnell and Dave Weston were philosophical at the end of the game.
McDonnell said: “We never expected to get this far based on our pool of players and we may possibly never get this far again, but we could not be prouder of what the lads have achieved this season.
“We have used 22 players and all have played a part in getting us here and what a fabulous attitude they’ve shown throughout.
“We still have the Yorkshire cup to try and win and then FC Halifax Town will work with the group going forward.”
The under-13s and under-15s Calderdale age groups will run again next season with trials starting in early September.
Calderdale Schools squad: James Wood (Lightcliffe), Josh Asquith (Rastrick), Adam Boyle (Brookbank), Josh Harrison (Brighouse), Seb Winstanley (Todmorden), Chris Hudson (Rastrick), Liam Hudson (Rastrick), Tom Ablett (Lightcliffe), Alastair Scott (Ryburn), Dale Blackburn (Calder), Myles LaBastide (Brooksbank), Ciaran Bourne (NHGS), Matthew Weston (Brooksbank), Alex Mather (Todmorden), Alfie Smith (Ryburn), Evan Donovan (Brighouse), Travis Atherton (Ryburn), Luca Willan (Brighouse), Lewis Hanse (Brooksbank), Harrison Peckover (Lightcliffe), Josh Heavyside (Brighouse), Harry Finch (Brooksbank).