Mansfield Town U16 girls come second in prestigious national ACES tournament

Mansfield Town's U16 Girls team proved themselves to be the second best girls side in the country at U18 level after defeat in the final of the prestigious ACES National Tournament.

It crowned a marvellous season as the girls only lost one game in becoming champions of the Nottinghamshire Girls and Ladies U16 League and only lost the League Cup final on penalties to Notts County.

But the ACES Tournament is seen nationally as the ultimate prize in junior football with only champions and the strongest teams from regions invited to compete and this U16 side are the only ever Mansfield Town side to be invited to the ACES.

“I am very proud of them,” said manager Lee Batty.

Mansfield Town U16 girls - national runners-up.

“They deserve every bit of praise they get.

“We were actually playing in the U18s category in the tournament and some of the players we had playing were only 15.

“Two years makes quite a difference physically so it makes being runners-up even more special.”

Mansfield didn't have too far to travel as this year's competition was held at the Riverside Sports Complex in Nottingham.

There were two groups of six teams from all over country with the top four in each group going through to the quarter-finals.

Mansfield were unbeaten until the 3-0 final defeat by North Haringey, who they had drawn 0-0 with in the group games.

“North Haringey have now won it three years in a row and they are linked with Arsenal,” said Batty.

“So if you are too good for them you play for Arsenal and if you're not good enough for Arsenal you play for them. So they are difficult to beat.”

Despite the glory of making the final, the day was tinged with sadness for the Stags.

“Sadly our team is now disbanding as there is no Mansfield Town U18s next season,” said Batty.

“So it was the last ever competition they will play together as a team which made it even more special.

“Our opponents Haringey were quite shocked to hear that too with us having got to a national competition final and now having no U18 team next year.

“It was quite sad. But it's not bad for our U16s to bow out as the second best U18 team in the country.”