leeds ladies new start sealed with a winBack
The name might not be United anymore, but Leeds Ladies proved they are more United than ever in the phoenix club’s first game in the WPL Division One.
A frantic last six weeks has taken the club from the point of having its league membership withdrawn, to lining up for their first game against Stockport County with an unfamiliar team in the unfamiliar setting of Harrogate Railway’s ground at Starbeck.
The early stages of the game were too familiar, after a gruelling pre-season in which Leeds suffered some heavy defeats at the hands of more established sides. Within ten minutes Stockport had taken advantage of a shaky start to go 2–0 up.
But the new-look Leeds Ladies proved their resilience from that point onwards. Sophie Varley started the fightback, and Leeds were level by half-time, captain Emma Bentley celebrating her penalty with the Leeds Salute after new striker Bianca Ross was brought down.
Leeds took command in the second half with another goal from Varley and a fourth from Erin White, although the two-goal cushion didn’t allow Leeds to rest as a tiring side had to give everything to withstand Stockport’s late pressure.
Leeds defence and midfield worked constantly to block everything that was thrown at them, while Ross and Shelby Morris made sure Stockport’s own defence couldn’t switch off whenever there was an opportunity to break.
The final whistle wasn’t just the end of a superb ninety minutes; it signalled the end of two months of hard work by every player, staff member and supporter to get Leeds Ladies from the brink of closure to the top of the league: one game played and one game won, but a victory that meant much more than just three points on the day.
The Leeds Ladies YouTube channel has post-match interviews with striker Bianca Ross (“When the goals come, they’ll come in big numbers”), manager Jak Oldroyd (“We knew the players were capable of that, and they’ve proved it today”) and chairman Gary Cooper ("We had a fight to keep it going and keep Leeds Ladies being Leeds … and if ever a team was Leeds, today, they were).
Leeds Ladies’ next game is on Sunday at Tranmere in the League Cup; after that they return to Harrogate Railway to face Guiseley AFC Vixens on Thursday September 4th, then move to Knaresborough Town to play Chester Le Street on Sunday September 7th. The full first team fixtures are here, and you can follow Leeds Ladies FC on Twitter and Facebook.