leeds ladies suffer late defeat: “we have to push through the barriers”Back
After the exhilaration of last Thursday’s 3–1 win over Guiseley Vixens, it was back to reality for Leeds Ladies at Manse Lane on Sunday.
The amazing effort put in on Thursday night seemed to have taken its toll in a tired performance against Morecambe, who took all three points thanks to two goals in the final four minutes that turned a 2–1 Leeds lead into a 3–2 defeat.
“I don’t want to say it was a game too far, because I believe that we could and should have won,” says Leeds captain Emma Bentley. "We did feel tired and it was tough. We didn’t lack the will to win, but when our bodies were tired we listened to them on Sunday rather than listening to our hearts which wanted to keep going.
“We knew we had two tough games to play this week. We gave everything in one of them, but to prove that we are worthy of being successful this season we have to push through that mental and physical barrier and bring those performances week in/week out.”
It was clear at the final whistle that the defeat, and the performance, had hit Leeds hard, as several of the players stayed on the pitch long after the end of the game, trying to take in what had happened. It had been a rollercoaster week for Leeds, who conceded a late winner to Liverpool the Sunday before but bounced back in style to put in the performance of the season so far against Guiseley on Thursday night.
“I still feel a bit down,” says Emma. "It’s just so difficult when I know what we are capable of and we don’t achieve it. Sunday’s result was not due to a lack of passion or desire – I just can’t put my finger on why we couldn’t keep hold of the lead.
"We were suffering from the hangover of Thursday and just weren’t at the races. Morecambe were all over us in the first ten minutes and we couldn’t get out of our own half, but despite that we did weather the storm and managed to go 1–0 up. I think after that we started to get a foothold on the game and at points we really took the game to them and showed our class.
“After such a draining night on Thursday it was clear that we weren’t going to keep the pace up for the full ninety minutes, and injuries and fatigue got on top of us. But I do believe that we should have held on to the lead and I’m disappointed – fuming – that we didn’t.”
Morecambe had won one and lost two of their opening three league games before Sunday, and looked up for the match from the start, hunting down Leeds midfielders in packs and giving them no time on the ball. Twice, though, Leeds looked to have the game under control, first going ahead through Carey Huegett’s trademark free kick, and second when Erin White scored after a corner; but as key players Morris, Starkie and Colman succumbed to injuries, the team as a whole succumbed to tiredness, and to a Morecambe side who had risen to the challenge of playing against Leeds.
“Every team that comes to play us raises their level up a gear or two simply because of who we are,” says Emma. "We are a big, bold name with a great following and a great reputation and that makes us a perfect scalp for every team in this league. Leeds aren’t we?
“It’s in games like these where we really have to find our arrogance and dominate the game. Other teams don’t give us any respect and we shouldn’t afford them the luxury of us letting up on them. We need to be down their throats from the off and make the trip to Leeds the worst Sunday of their season. We didn’t do that against Morecambe or Chester-le-Street and that’s disappointing. The only comfort is that we have the return fixtures ahead.”
Leeds next league fixture is that away trip to Morecambe, but the revenge mission will have to wait until after cup matches at home against Southampton this Sunday and Tingley Athletic Reserves the Sunday after, which will give Leeds a chance to recharge away from the pressure of the league campaign – although Emma doesn’t see the cups as an opportunity to relax.
"I’m like a big kid – I want to win every single game. So the cup game on Sunday won’t be a break for me. But in effect it is a shift of focus. The cup competitions have never really been high on our agenda – it’s performing well in the league that is our number one priority.
“We will still be looking for results because let’s face it – work is so much better on a Monday after a win. As for Morecambe – well, we all know what happened to Guiseley second time around.”
Leeds take on Southampton Saints in the Premier League Plate on Sunday 12th October at Ossett Town, with an early kick off at 12.30pm; Follow Leeds Ladies FC and the LLFC Supporters Club on Twitter for updates.