AN incredible journey into the international football arena began the moment Nicola Hobbs first strapped on a pair of goalkeeping gloves.
AN incredible journey into the international football arena began the moment Nicola Hobbs first strapped on a pair of goalkeeping gloves.Amazingly it was just two years ago she was persuaded to try her hand between the sticks - now she has six England youth appearances to her name and is being tipped to reach the very top in the booming womens football game.
The 16-year-old Lincolnshire lass from Moulton demonstrated all her prowess to keep a clean sheet in the hour she played in her latest international game for England Under 17s against Belgium last Thursday.
And she hopes it will be another stepping stone en-route to the next womens' World Cup in four years time.
"I had never even played in goal until a couple of years ago when I went to Norwich City," said Hobbs. "I had started off playing for the local team my dad ran when I was eight and like a lot of good girl players I was in a boys team for a while.
"But I'm so glad I became a keeper and hopefully I can go on to play for the senior England team in the World Cup."
Hobbs' blossoming international career has already taken her on a voyage of discovery to Romania, but she didn't have quite as far to go to help the national Under 17s to a 3-1 win against the Belgians at Yeading in front of a bumper crowd of over 350 people.
She is used to playing in front of tens rather than hundreds of fans for club side Lincoln City - they play at one level below the ladies top flight - but several old school friends are usually there to cheer her on.
"I went to Romania with the Under 19 team at the start of October and it was quite an experience," said Hobbs.
"We had some big European qualification games out there against Scotland, Ukraine and Romania and it was a real culture shock.
"We managed to beat everyone except Scotland but we had to be careful about what we ate over there. Thankfully we had a McDonalds on the last day!
"Some of my old friends from Spalding High School drive up to watch me play for Lincoln which always gives me a great boost.
"The crowds are beginning to get bigger as more people become involved at all levels of the game but it is always nice to play at a ground with grandstands like Yeading.
"It can be a bit daunting and it didn't help the nerves that the England senior coach Hope Powell was there watching.
"She gets the same sort of respect as Sven-Goran Eriksson and everyone wanted to impress her."
These days Hobbs is only a Moulton resident at weekends. She spends the rest of her time on a scholarship at the FA national womens development centre at Loughborough University.
That means she plays the game six days a week and Hobbs is in no doubt it has improved her game immensely.
"I'm away from my family and friends a lot and obviously can't go out partying," continued Hobbs. "But I believe it will all be worth the sacrifice if I can get to play in world cup's and at the top."
It's not just football Hobbs excels at, she is a mean cricketer and is a tae-kwon-do black belt
Her brother Jack is also a Lincoln City player as a member of the centre of excellence at Sincil Bank
Posh sparkle to beat Diamonds
POSH Ladies produced a sparkling display to defeat Peterborough Diamonds in the big city Under 15 derby.
A quick-fire double strike from Julie Ikeda, who went on to hit four goals, set the Posh girls on their way to a 10-2 win at Chestnut Avenue on Saturday morning.
Ikeda turned provider to create Posh's third goal for Ashley Palmer before pouncing on a defensive slip to add the fourth goal herself.
Palmer went on to complete her treble before the break and Megan Bonner struck three minutes after the restart with Samara Iredale getting in on the goal act herself with a 30-yard free-kick special.
Diamonds grabbed a goal back when Laura Hings converted a right wing cross but Ikeda soon completed her personal haul after latching onto a Bonner cross. And Bonner was behind a slightly fortuitous 10th Posh goal as her mean corner flew through a crowd of players and into the net.
Katie Shields rounded off the scoring by hitting a second Diamonds consolation as she ran at the Posh defence and unleashing a rasping, rising 25-yard shot that flew into the roof of the net.
Posh: Ashley Palmer, Alison Hills, Frankie Kelly, Samara Iredale, Stephanie Pepper, Charlotte Clark, Carla Hovell, Megan Bonner, Julie Ikeda, Amy Rickards, Rachel Dance, Leanne Allen, Lauren Costello.
• ZOE Watkins scored one and made another to help Posh Ladies Under 11s bounce back to winning ways.
Watkins created the opener for Olivia Slater and struck the second herself at Sunnyside Warriors and, even though the hosts pulled one back on the stroke of half time, Shay Stanford's length-of-the-field burst and finish and a Laura Bigginton effort wrapped up a 4-1 win.
Posh: Kloe Bennett, Paige Moore, Jessica Warwick, Shay Stanford, Eilis Carr, Zoe Watkins, Laura Bigginton, Olivia Slater, Emma Orgar, Hannah Hillan.
• POSH Ladies Under 13s climbed out of their early-season slump in spectacular fashion to crush City Colts 11-0.
Jessica O'Sullivan fired Posh in front and completed a first-half hat-trick before other efforts from Jade Bingham, Lorna Gallagher, a captain's cracker from Chandade Henderson brought up the half-dozen by the break.
Sub Natalie Gaches climbed off the bench fo hit her first goal for the club after the break and fellow replacement Jordan Biggs made it 8-0.
Danniella Pinnelli soon added the ninth goal with a 20-yard half volley, Gaches' second sent Posh storming into double figures and Henderson finished the job near the end.
Posh: Kerrie Moles, Sian Addison, Becky Smith, Emma Stebbing, Megan Quirke, Danniella Pinnelli, Jade Bingham, Samantha Hall, Jessica O'Sullivan, Lorna Gallacher, Chande Henderson, Jordan Biggs, Bethan Neale, Natalie Gaches.
• KELLY Hayden hit her first hat-trick for Peterborough Diamonds Under 10s and hit her dad in the pocket.
Hayden's father sponsors her at 5 a goal and had to cough up the full 15 after her treble saw off St Neots 3-1.
• GOLDHAY Girls Under 13s dropped their first points of the season when they went down 7-0 to Corby Cougars Roma.
Goldhay: C. Panks, H. Crockett, B. Abbott, A. Obradovic, A. Webb, N. Robertson, Z. Craig, K. Read, S. Brown, Z. Bennett, E. Morgan, A. Burke.
Sherrina springs a surprise
SHERRINA Cronin made an instant impact on her return from injury as Eye United sprang a major Eastern Region League Cup surprise.
The blossoming city side are sitting pretty at the top of the Second Division and proved it is no fluke by toppling Division One leaders Haverhill thanks to a cracking Cronin double.
Cronin set Eye on their way on the 20-minute mark, seizing on Vicki King's pass and guiding the ball past the goalkeeper.
She then managed to double the lead after stealing possession and angling a low shot home from the edge of the box.
That finally sparked the hosts into life and they pulled a goal back with a close range rebound. Eye wasted a golden chance to secure their passage into the second round when Leah Buff failed to connect with a Claire Knibbs cross with the goal at her mercy.
But a couple of important saves from goalkeeper Claire Everall ensured they made progress.
Eye: Claire Everall; Max Llewellyn (Sarah Pickstone); Mel Obradovic; Stacey Schreiber; Emma Bell (Leah Buff); Vicki King (Sarah Chapman); Laura Clarke; Jess Farchica; Clare Knibbs; Sherrina Cronin; Jade White.
Three is the magic number
STAMFORD Sharks fired three goals past Three Holes in a game that had three referees.
The Under 13 girls ran out 3-1 winners thanks to Erin Carmody (2) and Emma Ward - and that's more running than ref Mick Bradford will be doing for a while after a pulled hamstring ended his game early in the first half.
Stamford chairman Doug Marshall assumed the whistle until the interval then man-in-the-middle number three Mark Waldron took care of the second half.
Sharks: Ailis Carmody, Erin Carmody, Stephanie Slann, Katie Waldron, Nicky Adey, Leanne Hilless, Melissa Whitby, Jessica Ward, Emma Ward, Amy Rigby.
• STAMFORD Jets Under 13s just couldn't find the net - but a fifth successive clean sheet earned them a draw at Wisbech St Mary Yellow.
Jets: Emma Gartrell, Helena Cerski, Melissa Mortimore, Rachel Garratt, Katie Altham, Ceri Lovesey, Bethany Login, Annie Cavangh, Frannie Cavanagh.
Cambridge City v Peterborough Diamonds Under 10 (10am)
Walden v Peterborough Diamonds Under 12 (12noon)
Isle Lodge v Peterborough Diamonds Under 15 (11am)
Posh Ladies Under 11 v Kettering Utd (11am, Bushfield)
Raunds Tigers v Posh Ladies Under 13
Posh Ladies Under 15 v Kettering Utd (11am, Bushfield)
Eye United v White Lions (2pm, Chestnut Avenue)
Chesterfield Res v Posh Ladies (2pm)
Cambridge Utd A v Posh Ladies Res (2pm)