IT was a cup final that they thought they would never play.

A team of Hampshire schoolgirl soccer players were beginning to believe their chances of cup glory had been kicked away forever because they had nowhere to play.

The Toynbee School team at Chandler's Ford had reached the final of the prestigious English Schools' under-14 Girls' National Cup. However, their chances of getting their hands on the trophy were slipping away fast because no major professional club would let them use their ground.

The English Schools Football Association, which organises the prestigious competition, had contacted 35 professional clubs without success Victory Then Cirencester Town Football Club from the Southern Football League Premier Divisionn stepped in and saved the day.

The final should have been played last May but the long wait was soon forgotten by the Toynbee girls who clinched a one goal victory over Bridgnorth Endowed School from Shropshire to bring the coveted cup back to Hampshire.

It was a real cup final atmosphere as more than 200 supporters, including pupils, staff and parents, headed towards the Cotswolds for the big match.

Team manager and Toynbee's head of physical education Justin Innes said: "There were 3,000 teams in the competition which started 12 months ago."

Just to get into the finals was a big enough achievement but to win was a dream come true.

Mr Innes added: "The girls were over the moon when they won. It was a real team effort."

It was a 28th minute goal from 14 year-old captain Nicola Ferris which put Toynbee on the cup trail.

"I was ecstatic," said Nicola.

Three minutes from the end they could have put it beyond Bridg-north's reach when a shot from 14 year-old Kaylee Senter hit the post.

Mr Innes said: "If it had gone in it could have calmed nerves because we had to get through eight minutes of injury time."

Toynbee also had its cup heroes. Kelly-Anne Harrison, aged, 14, thought she was just suffering from cramp after suffering an injury in the opening minutes. She played on not realising that she had torn an achilles tendon.

She said: "It was small price to pay for national glory."

So it all came right on the day for the Toynbee soccer girls who at one time thought the plug had been pulled on their cup dreams.