It was certainly not a case of lightning striking twice for Churchfields Primary school from Redbridge recently as the Leyton Orient representatives were knocked out at the semi-final stage of the National Leagues’ Boys Cup.
After winning the local tournament held at the Score centre in Leyton, the school had reached the Southern Area Finals by winning their previous round (South-Eastern regional) and defeating a school representing Dagenham & Redbridge on penalties in that final. However, it was decided that all winners and runners-up from the three regional tournaments would make the Southern finals and so, as luck would have it, the O’s and Daggers were to meet again.
The prize is huge in this competition with the eventual winners from the southern and northern regions playing each other in a prestigious final at Wembley Stadium prior to the National League Play-Off final!
Hosted at Boreham Wood FC, school teams from Oxford City, Dartford, Maidenhead and Maidstone were alongside and with the six teams playing in a league format followed by the new National League play-off system rules, O’s fourth placed finished had them playing fifth placed Maidenhead in the knock-out stage, O’s coming through 2-0.
However, this meant they would now play Dagenham & Redbridge who had won all of their league games and were sitting top of the league. As expected, the game was hard fought and an equaliser in the final minute for Orient meant the game went to the dreaded penalties. This was the scenario the last times the schools met but unfortunately, this time the outcome was reversed, and the valiant O’s team went out of the competition by 3-1.
A disconsolate Churchfields stayed to watch the final between their victors and the school representing Dartford and once again the game went to penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw. However, the Dagenham team were to suffer heartbreak as Dartford took the plaudits with a 3-2 win and earned themselves a Wembley day out.
Churchfields manager, Lisa Brown, commented afterwards. “It’s obviously disappointing to be so close (to a Wembley appearance) but the team are a good group and tried their best. We are proud to have been able to represent Leyton Orient and have enjoyed the whole competition. It’s a fantastic prize and we’re already looking forward to entering a team next season”.
Howard Gould, Leyton Orient Community Liaison Officer, said, “It was a pleasure watching Churchfields play in the O’s kit and they did a tremendous job representing the club. They have a talented squad but overall, the standards are rising year upon year too. Penalties is always a tough way to lose but on behalf of the Club and Trust, I’d like to thank Lisa and the team for their excellent efforts”.
Danson Primary school from Dartford went on to Wembley but lost out to their northern counterparts from Chester, St. Werburgh’s & St. Columba’s Catholic Primary School.