IT was such a cruel way for Winsford High Street Year 6 girls football team to bow out of the National Finals in the end.

The girls, who also play for Winsford Diamonds under 11s, were representing the North of England as well as the north west, Cheshire and Winsford in the final day’s play at Coventry City’s ground after a highly successful qualifying campaign.

They drew two and won one of their group games in Coventry on Friday but then went into a penalty shootout to decide who went through to the semi-finals because three teams finished on five points and two teams, including Winsford, had the exact same goal difference and goals scored.

“It was very disappointing as we went through all five stages of the tournament throughout the school year unbeaten, then lost on penalties,” said Rob Hopley, the former Witton Albion captain who coaches the girls at Winsford Diamonds.

“So there were a lot of tears unfortunately afterwards.

“They did so well to get there and to get knocked out on penalties in the manner we did was so cruel! But that’s football unfortunately!”

Hopley’s daughter Ella was a member of the squad whose progress came on the back of being victors at the Cheshire and regional finals.

He knows the girls will have learnt a lot from their adventure and have many happy memories when the dust settles.

“It was great experience for them playing at a championship ground and they had some great support there with all their families and the school took a coachload of Year 6 students to support the girls,” said Hopley.

Days Lane School from Kent were the eventual winners.

Squad: Esme Entwistle, Lily Rogers, Lyla Thomas, Eris Davies, Amber Rothwell, Faye Yarwood, Ella Hopley.