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Utilita Kids & Girls Cup

Utilita Kids Cup: Regional Finals Review

18 March 2022

Six teams are set for a dream-come-true experience when they participate in the Utilita Kids Cup Grand Finals at Wembley Stadium in May.

Taking place during half-time of each of the three divisional Play-Off Finals, kids aged 10 and 11 will have the opportunity to play on the hallowed turf, having won their respective regional competitions.

Here is a review of each Clubs' road to Wembley.

Hosts

Winners

Runners-Up

Score (in the Final)

Sheffield United

Sheffield United

Preston North End

1-1 (9-8 on pens)

Reading

Luton Town

Millwall

4-3

Accrington

Sheffield Wednesday

Crewe Alexandra

3-0

MK Dons

Portsmouth

Charlton Athletic

7-3

Salford

Tranmere Rovers

Harrogate Town

0-0 (won on pens)

Swindon

Exeter City

Bristol Rovers

1-0

Sky Bet Championship Northern Winners – Sheffield United

Represented by Nethergreen Junior School

Hosted by Sheffield United, it was Huddersfield Town who started brightest after winning all of their games in Group B, while Preston North End were able to come out on top in an extremely tight Group A.

However, there was a shock in the Quarter-Finals as previously unbeaten Huddersfield were knocked out by Coventry City, who triumphed 2-1. Leaving the competition wide open, Preston were 4-1 winners over Nottingham Forest to reach the Final and Sheffield United defeated Coventry City 3-1.

Playing for a place at Wembley, both teams had chances to win during a very competitive clash that ended all square at 1-1, meaning the game went to penalties. After a tense encounter, it was the Blades who eventually won 9-8 in the shoot-out.

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Sky Bet Championship Southern Winners – Luton Town

Represented by Sacred Heart Primary School

Luton Town were the victors at Reading, with former Swansea City defender Ashley Williams in attendance. beat Millwall in the final 4-3.

The Hatters progressed from Group 1 alongside Williams' former employers, while Millwall and Derby County rounded out the final four. 

At the Semi-Final stage, Luton overcame Derby, while the Swans were beaten by Millwall, which set up a fiercely contested Final that went right to the wire at Reading's Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Luton's Year 6 boys team were narrow 4-3 winners, and were then presented with the well-deserved trophy by ex-Wales international Williams, who also handed out medals to all participants.

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Sky Bet League One Northern Winners – Sheffield Wednesday 

Represented by Windmill Hill Primary School

Teams were split into two groups of six, with first and second from each group progressing to the semi-finals.

With teams split into two groups of six, Doncaster Rovers finished top of Group A, with Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday following them into the knockout stages in second position.

Group B was hotly contested, with the final match between Fleetwood Town and Wigan Athletic deciding who would join Crewe Alexandra in the Semi-Finals. It was Fleetwood who emerged victorious, with that result sealing first position just ahead of the Railwaymen.

Both Semi-Finals were settled by a single goal as Crewe and Sheffield Wednesday overcame Doncaster and Fleetwood with both matches resulting in 1-0 scorelines.

In the Final, a cagey first-half saw the sides locked in a stalemate, and it was the Owls who found an extra gear after the break, scoring three goals without reply to send them through to the National Finals at Wembley Stadium in style.

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Sky Bet League One Southern Winners – Portsmouth

Represented by Meon Junior School

The tournament was arranged over two groups of five teams, with each team playing four group fixtures in a round robin format.  

Hosts MK Dons were eliminated in the Quarter-Finals, along with Plymouth Argyle, who had really impressed in the group games. Other results contrived to set up a Semi-Final tie between AFC Wimbledon and Portsmouth, a fixture that many of the observers on the day believed was destined to be the final. As predicted, it was a close encounter, with Pompey winning thanks to a bicycle kick with 30 seconds to spare!

The Final saw Portsmouth take on Charlton Athletic. It looked like a procession early on when Pompey charged into a three-goal lead, although Charlton recovered admirably and managed to get themselves back into the contest by the half-time break. But shortly after the restart, Portsmouth found another gear and ended up registering a 7-3 victory to progress to Wembley.

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Sky Bet League Two Northern Winners – Tranmere Rovers

Represented by St George’s Primary School

Tranmere Rovers were crowned the champions of the North in the League Two Utilita Kids Cup Regional Final.

The Merseysiders played some great football throughout the day and went into the lunchtime break in joint second, trailing Carlisle United alongside Bradford City.

After the break, Tranmere went from strength to strength as they turned on the style and the pressure on the leaders. Tranmere's goalkeeper also produced some very important saves, ensuring their path to finishing top of the league was all but guaranteed.

The final league positions saw Port Vale just miss out on a place in the Semi-Finals in fifth place behind Harrogate Town, Salford City, Carlisle and table-toppers Tranmere.

In the Semi-Finals, Carlisle pipped Salford 1-0, while Tranmere took the honours against Harrogate Town, also a solitary goal.

The Final was filled with chances at both ends, but once again both goalkeepers produced some amazing saves to keep the score at 0-0 at the final whistle.

The game went onto penalties and a high standard of spot-kicks meant it went to sudden death. Unfortunately for Harrogate, they crashed their last penalty against the crossbar, ensuring Tranmere progressed to Wembley Stadium in May.

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Sky Bet League Two Southern Winners – Exeter City

Represented by Stoke Hill Junior School

The Utilita Kids Cup League Two South Regional Final was contested by 12 schools representing their local Football Club, giving 94 children the opportunity to compete for the chance to make it to Wembley.

Each team played a minimum of five fixtures, with players demonstrating great skill and teamwork, playing the games in a sporting way.

Exeter and Bristol Rovers were the two sides to progress to the Final. The Grecians were involved in a closely fought Group A, topping the table on goal difference before beating Walsall in the Semi-Final, while Rovers remained perfect in the group stage, winning all five matches aand then edging through their last-four clash with Colchester United on penalties.

The Final was a closely contested affair, with just one goal separating the two teams as Exeter ran out 1-0 victors, meaning they will go on to represent the South at the League Two Play-Off Final in May.

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