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Royals so close to Cup triumph
 Women's Football News 8 Aug 2008
 
Royals so close to Cup triumph - 8 Aug 2008 - Women's Football NewsReading Royals Under-17 came within a penalty kick of winning the FA Umbro International Cup in Manchester last week. 
 
A dramatic penalty shoot out at the end of a hard fought final settled the encounter in favour of a very strong Falkirk side from Scotland.
 
With the penalty shootout scores standing at 4-4, it came down to sudden death and whilst Royals' Amber Wilson and Olivia Davis held their nerve in converting, defender Fiona Avis was not so lucky when she had her spot kick well saved.
 
It was heartbreaking for the young Royals who had never expected to get so far in what was a very strong competition. Their first group game resulted in a 2-1 victory against Port Vale and a further 5-2 scoreline soon followed against Heimdal FC from Norway. The third game produced a victory in a tough encounter that saw the Royals race into a 2-0 lead against Manchester City, who pulled a goal back ten minutes before the end to set up a nail biting finish but the Royals held on to record a third success. The fourth game was against St Francis of Eire with the Royals putting in a well drilled defensive display to make it four wins from four, by a 1-0 margin.
 
On maximum points and already in a qualification place for the final Royals rested a number of key players in their final group game against Falkirk. The Scots, playing a full strength side, proved to be a tough, resilient and very skilful team easing to a 4-0 victory. The result had no bearing on the tournament with Falkirk already also qualifying for the final.
 
Team manager Andrew Davis was delighted at the end although a little disappointed that the girls had lost out so cruelly in the penalty shootout. He summed up his feelings when he said: "I was so proud of our achievements, we went to the tournament with an unbalanced squad that had not played together before and the opposition was very strong. However, there was a real sense of togetherness and determination in the dressing room. It's important that players get on, they don't have to be the best of mates but have to feel that they are a part of a unit and all have a very important role to play.
 
"Reaching the final was a feat in itself but to come so close, particularly against superior opposition, was an outstanding achievement and they all wanted it so badly. I knew that the final would probably be the hardest game we have ever played and following our 4-0 defeat in the group game we knew that we had to get it tactically right. We put ten players back behind the ball and defended from deep in our own half, which frustrated them and limited their chances, in turn we were only able to create a few ourselves on the counter attack but almost sneaked it when Chloe Rostron was denied late on.
 
"There were some outstanding individual performances and the players that really stood out for me were Charlotte Sparrow in goal, Louise Ekins at left back and Amber Wilson in left midfield. Vicky Jarrett also had a very good tournament in centre midfield."

 
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