DURHAM Under 16 Girls football team have been crowned national champions for the first time in their history.
They won the ESFA Inter-County Trophy by beating Kent 3-2 in the final in an exciting game played at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground.
The match featured four second-half goals as the game swung one way then the other and Durham needed to be solid in defence in the opening half against a bright Kent side that started well.
Durham keeper Charlotte Pelleymounter was vigilant in goal behind a defence marshalled by Charlotte Wilson as the rearguard successfully established the team in the game.
Durham took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Wilson sent over a fine cross and Zoe Ness finished with a clinical header.
Stung by the sucker-punch, Kent were quickly out of the blocks at the start of the second half and levelled affairs within a minute of the restart – a cross by skipper Kylie Manktelow being turned over Pelleymounter by Wilson for an own goal.
The defender atoned for her mishap though in the 53rd minute when Amy Lyn (Sandhill View) was brought down in the box as she rounded the keeper – the defender calmly converting from the resulting penalty.
Kent hit back and hit the post but Durham increased the lead in the 56th minute with Ness’s second goal – Meg Lawson putting over a cross from the right into the danger area and Ness stretching out her right leg to make sufficient contact with the ball to send it trickling over the line.
Kent continued to battle and scored a second goal two minutes from time to ensure a jittery end to the game but the North East team survived the seven minutes added on to take the trophy.
The closest Durham had come to winning the competition previously was in 1999, when they were runners-up, losing 3-1 to Hampshire.