Local school head to Wembley after winning Kids Cup Regional FinalsThis Thursday saw the team from Minterne Community Junior School travel to AFC Wimbledon to represent the Gills in the League Two Southern England Regional Finals of the npower Football League U11 Kids Cup.
AFC Wimbledon played host to the Finals and in attendance were other winning schools representing Aldershot Town, Barnet, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Exeter City, Northampton Town, Oxford United, Plymouth Argyle, Southend Utd, Torquay, Wycombe Wanderers and AFC Wimbledon.
The teams were split into three groups, with the winner from each group and the team who scored the most goals progressing to the semi-finals.
With a number of schools held up in traffic on the way to the Finals the groups had to be decided as teams were arriving and the Gills found themselves in the same group as Northampton, Wycombe and Oxford.
The first game was against Northampton and the Gills dominated from start to finish and thoroughly deserved a 2-0 victory. In their second game they faced Wycombe, who had already drawn against Northampton, again the Gills dominated early on but couldn’t capitalise on all their chances and with their first opportunity of the game Wycombe scored the winner.
Up next for the Gills came Oxford and they again dominated and their hard work was rewarded with a well worked goal and they were only denied more by a superb performance from the Oxford goalkeeper.
With six points on the board the Gills hoped it would be enough to win the group but we had to bite our nails while Oxford faced Wycombe in the last game of the group to decide, and a 1-1 draw was enough to send the Gills through as group winners.
The semi-finals would see the Gills face Plymouth while Torquay would play Bristol Rovers. The Gills started strong and had a number of chances to take the lead but another great performance from the Plymouth keeper denied an early lead.
The Gills kept pilling on the pressure and with only a few minutes remaining got the winner to see them through to the finals where they would face Bristol Rovers.
With the chance of playing at Wembley at stake, the Gills were again out of the blocks quickly and scored in the first few minutes with a well worked corner.
They then saw their lead doubled and then tripled with only six minutes played. Bristol Rovers heads dropped but they continued to press but couldn’t break down the Gills and as the minutes ticked down the realisation of playing at Wembley was getting ever closer.
As the final whistle sounded the dream became a reality and Minterne were heading to Wembley.
As the team celebrated they were presented with their winners medals by AFC Wimbledon player Huw Johnson and all the talk was about playing at the home of English Football.
The team will get their chance to play on the hallowed turf on Saturday 18th May at the League Two Play-off Finals against the winners of the Northern Final and will be the second school representing Gillingham FC at Wembley this year, as our Girls Cup winners from Rainham School for Girls are also through to the National Finals.
Congratulations to Harry Hubbard, Bradley Allen, Hayden Woods, James Witt, Joshua Willis, Dillon Tubb, Bradley Atkins and Ben Adams and their teachers who were an absolute credit to their school and a pleasure to work with and thoroughly deserved to win on the day.
We wish them the very best of luck at Wembley and we will let you know how they get on.
Please click here to view more photos.