Victory over Londoners for St. Cecilia’s footballers

St. Cecilia's School team who played a friendly against Leytonstone from London at the Creggan school this week. Also pictured are Jackie Blythe, NIWFA and Ms. Joanne Nicholl, teacher, St. Cecilia's College. 0804JM14
St. Cecilia's School team who played a friendly against Leytonstone from London at the Creggan school this week. Also pictured are Jackie Blythe, NIWFA and Ms. Joanne Nicholl, teacher, St. Cecilia's College. 0804JM14

St. Cecilia’s College football team beat East London school, Leytonstone 2-1 in Derry earlier this week.

Included in the Leytonstone team were two girls who play for professional football clubs in England; Gabrielle Clarke (Arsenal FC) and Rona Scarr (Tottenham Hotspur FC).

Leytonstone’s first match of their Northern Ireland tour was against St Cecilia’s College and the game was pretty evenly played.

Leytonstone took a while to settle and conceded a soft goal in the opening minutes.

St Cecilia’s started the game brightly and took the lead on three minutes when Megan Smith’s throw in found the unmarked Emma McGilloway in the box and she finished the opportunity neatly with her right foot.

Leytonstone soon recovered and managed to hold the game to 1-0 with terrific defensive performances from the back four of Katherine Dalchow, Carley Linney, Rona Scarr and Natasha Stephenson.

St Cecilia’s extended their lead on 13 minutes when Jessica Harkin turned inside her defender on the left of the box before squaring the ball for Emma McGilloway to slot home.

Both Scarr and Stephenson made some great clearances during the closing minutes of the first half to keep out St Cecilia’s.

In keeping with the ethos of Leytonstone School their girls never gave up and kept the pressure on the St Cecilia’s back four with chances coming for Shenaya Daley and Lisa Paul up front.

On the left wing Gabrielle Clarke displayed a fantastic performance leading up to Leytonstone‘s first goal as she dribbled the ball from her own half past two St Cecilia’s players. The light footedness and balance of the Arsenal midfielder was exquisite as she steamed forward and managed to get the final ball across goal for striker Shenaya Daley to tap in from close range.

During the second half Leytonstone came back fighting and had several drives forward into the box. St Cecilia’s defence held strong and both sides showed great defensive performances to keep either side from scoring another. 

Leytonstone’s match sharpness and concentration finally clicked into gear in the closing minutes of the match in which Clarke missed a sitter from close range in front of the St Cecilia’s goal but the defence held strong and managed to block the shot from the Arsenal midfielder.

All in all a great performance from both teams in a well played match and a great day out had by all the girls involved. Leytonstone would like to say a massive thank you to St Cecilia’s for the invitation and hope that they will travel to London for a return match in the near future.

Leytonstone School is a mixed comprehensive school  situated in East London which has both boys and girls aged 11-16 in attendance. Each year the PE department takes the girls football team away to different countries to play in friendlies and gain some valuable 11 aside playing experience. Previous tours have included Holland and Spain but this year it was decided that the students would travel to Ireland. Leytonstone worked very closely with the Irish Football Association in the organisation of the tour which has proved to be extremely successful and the least stressful tour to date.

Leytonstone School teacher and coach Jo Letson stated: “That the IFA have been brilliant in the organising of every game. A massive thank you to Jackie Blythe for that. The girls are certainly enjoying the wonderful Irish hospitality since arriving in Portrush on Monday and the weather has been great too.”