leeds ladies 4 – 1 norton & stockton ancients: “non-negotiables” ensure leeds winBack
A confident and focused performance against Norton & Stockton Ancient on Sunday meant Leeds Ladies ended the first month of the season with their second win in a week.
Leeds stayed in fourth place after the 4–1 win, with Shelbey Morris, Carey Huegett and Hannah Campbell yet again providing the goals.
Campbell has scored in each of the last five games, and Morris in each of the last three; while Huegett scored her second brace of the season, this time a header and a free kick.
As Brendan Devereux highlights in his report at RITGK, an excellent performance from Norton’s goalkeeper looked all set to frustrate those three and fellow forward Bianca Ross, until Morris put Leeds 1–0 up just before the half-time – which brought with it an inexplicable change of keeper for Norton.
“Their goalkeeper was outstanding, and I did think that she would become our nemesis,” says Leeds captain Emma Bentley. “I think I was taking every shot with Hannah and Shelbey during that first half, she frustrated us no end.”
Leeds were expected to win against the league’s bottom side, but Emma was pleased with the rewards for a professional performance.
"Of course we went into this game with confidence – Norton are sitting rock bottom without a point, so we hoped that we could pick up all three – but that didn’t mean that we went into the game with arrogance or complacency. We don’t know any opposition until we face them so we always play our own game and we dictate the play and the performance, nobody else. I mean – their keeper? Who knew? You wouldnt have placed her in a bottom of the league squad, would you?
“Getting the job done right is always the most important thing. No matter who we play or what the end result is we always look to do things properly. We look to get the basics right and to do them well. To win our individual battles and to play with pride and passion. They are the ‘non-negotiables’ of being part of this Leeds team – and so far, nobody has let themselves or Leeds down.”
Nowhere has that disciplined approach been more evident this season – or more necessary – than in the Leeds defence, and while the forwards took the plaudits for the scoreline, it was young left-back Catherine Hamill who was voted woman of the match by her team-mates for the second time this season. Mirroring the willing running of Emily Starkie on the right, Hamill was constantly pressing forward in support of Morris on the left wing, and just as quickly returning to defence to snuff out danger.
“Catherine is an unbelievable talent,” says Emma. "She is good at winning the ball back one versus one, she is disciplined and has good positional sense, but she is also attack minded and has energy to burn – she just never gets tired. I can also hear her more often in games now which is great, because I get sick of the sound of my own voice!
"The back four on Sunday was Catherine, a 17 year old in her first season of open age football; Bridie Hannon, a defensive midfielder just coming back from a long injury; me, a striker for 20 years in my sixth game as a defender; and Emily Starkie – another converted striker, playing at full back. I don’t think we do that bad, considering!
"We did have a shaky few minutes after Norton pulled a goal back where it was kind of hands over face time. But with every week that passes we seem to be becoming more resilient to those periods of pressure and we feel more capable of holding it together and getting our grip back on the game.
“Goalkeeper Lauryn Colman is also stepping up from the reserves to the first team and her development has been great. When I saw her last season, she was a great shot stopper but was rooted to her line too often. I had to tell her that she needs to act as more of a sweeper – any ball that comes through, run at it and kick it as hard as you can – she’s getting that now.”
The league season is now a month old, and after five games Leeds are in fourth place, unbeaten in three, and have won two in a row; and are showing improvement each week.
“I’ve said before at one point that we aren’t a ‘pretty’ footballing team, like your Arsenals or your Barcelonas – but do you know what – I have seen some evidence in our play to show that maybe we could be,” says Emma.
That good form will be put to the test in the next two games, against the teams immediately above and below Leeds in the table – Liverpool and Guiseley – and Emma is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“I think we have to go into every game with confidence in our own ability. On our day, when things are done right, I think we are capable of beating any team in this league. As I said before, we always need to ensure that we play our own game, win our battles and do things right.”
The home clash with Liverpool Marshalls Feds LFC is this coming Sunday 28th at 2pm at Knaresborough Town’s Manse Lane ground; entry is £2, or £1 for kids. The following Thursday October 2nd, at 7.45pm, Leeds travel to Nethermoor Park to face Guiseley AFC Vixens. Follow Leeds Ladies FC and the LLFC Supporters Club on Twitter for updates.