Congratulations to Gillingham Centre of Excellence keeper, Katie Startup and her England teammates who have qualified for the U17 World Cup after they finished 3rd at the U17 UEFA Finals.
In the Group stages England faced Norway, hosts Belarus and Serbia and got off to a great start with a 3-2 win over Norway before dominating the game against Belarus, winning 12-0 and securing a spot in the semi-finals. Next up they faced Serbia, who they had previously beaten in the qualifiers, and despite going a goal down in the first half they turned up the heat in the second after to knock four past the Serbian keeper and finish group winners.
England met Germany in the semi-finals, who had come second in their group to holders Spain who would face Norway in the other semi-final. Spectators were treated to a seven goal special, which saw Germany take the lead just before the half hour mark with England hitting back quickly, equalising two minutes later. The second half started quickly with England conceding in the first minute but again they equalised quickly with a goal just a minute later.
The game continued to be end to end with both teams trying to get the upper hand and it was Germany who found themselves on top with a goal in the 57th and 70th minute to put them in a dominant position. England continued to press though and was rewarded with a late goal in the 77th minutes, setting up a frantic final few minutes as they looked to score another equaliser, but it wasn’t to be and Germany saw out the game to set up a final with Spain.
England faced Norway in the 3rd 4th place play-off, with the winner of the game joining Spain and Germany in the World Cup taking place in Jordan in September. England started of the match strongly and opened the scoring in the 8th minute and having the better of the chances of the first half.
Norway dug in deep in the second half and they were rewarded with an equaliser in the 52nd minute but England didn’t have to wait too long before they took back the lead in the 57th minute. It was a nerve wracking last 20 minutes with both teams having chances but England were able to keep hold of the lead and secure qualification for the World Cup.
Katie said: "It's been an amazing experience, we naturally were disappointed to narrowly miss out on a spot in the final, but our goal for the trip was to secure a World Cup place and we're ecstatic to achieve that and come home with a bronze medal. That along with breaking the record score in all UEFA competitions, our 12-0 win against Belarus, made the trip a very successful one."
Well done to all the squad on a fantastic achievement.
To find out more about Gillingham FC’s Regional Talent Club (formerly Girls Centre of Excellence) and how you can trial this June please click here or contact Georgia Bowie, firstname.lastname@example.org or 01634 350125.