It's coming home, it's coming home, football's coming home!17th May 2022
The Forest School under 16 team were crowned National Champions on Monday, 9th May as they won the ESFA Elite Cup Final played at Stoke City's Bet365 Stadium.
National Champions in 2006, and runners up in 2007 and 2009, the school has an excellent record in the ESFA competitions. The disappointment of losing semi finals in 2011 and 2019 has been quashed by this years' team. The team have overcome many away trips against footballing schools such as Ravens Wood and Eden Park, Bromley; Downlands, Brighton and St Peter’s, Gloucester; sides that have contained top academy players. The Forest have a strong sporting history and they went to Stoke intent on adding to it.
The team's run into the final saw them win tough away matches in the last 32, 16 and quarters. The semi final played at RFC's Bearwood training ground was another tense affair but the team progressed to the showpiece final.
Over half the school made the long journey to Stoke to support their team and be part of The Forest making sporting history as they took on Cardinal Heenan School from Liverpool that boasts Steven Gerrard as one of its old boys.
From the first whistle, Forest were immediately on the attack and were rewarded with an early penalty which The Cardinal Heenan/Wigan Athletic keeper saved. Although Forest had the lion's share of possession a breakaway moment from Cardinal Heenan in the twenty first minute, their first real opportunity, opened the scoring to lead 1-0 at the break. A Forest comeback was needed!
The second half saw the Forest boys come out with a renewed spring in their step and it was clear from the whistle they were determined to bring the cup home to Winnersh. In just under 10 minutes a cross from Joe Barough was sent into the back of the net. Prince Ehibhatiomhan quickly picked the ball out of the net and headed to the half way line to continue the assault. In the sixty fourth minute The Forest fans were off their seats again when another of Joe Baroughs many crosses was tapped into the back of the net by Jaden Porter-Atkinson.
The Forest remained resolute in defence typified by the man of the match performance from Reading FC Academy player of the year Abraham Kanu who received this accolade at the post match presentation.
On the final whistle the travelling supporters of students, teachers, parents and governors were rewarded for their 80 minutes of steadfast support as their players rushed to celebrate their victory. The fans were welcomed by their heroes with songs and celebrations, all draped in commemorative scarves. Final Score Forest 2 – 1 Cardinal Heenan. Football is home.