leeds ladies show “pride, passion & honesty” in guiseley defeatBack
Leeds Ladies captain Emma Bentley has praised the pride, passion and honesty the team showed in their 6–3 defeat to Guiseley Vixens on Thursday night.
Combining the best of last season’s Guiseley, Rothwell and Leeds City Vixens squads, Guiseley Vixens visited the newly formed Leeds Ladies FC looking for a big score.
For a while they looked like they might get it; after Guiseley scored a 53rd minute penalty given for what Martin Chadwick at RITGK calls “an amazing dive straight from the Ashley Young guide to diving handbook” Vixens had a clear 5–1 lead.
Despite the scoreline Guiseley were not having the easy night they might have anticipated, and it was Leeds who ended the night the stronger as Guiseley struggled to deal with Leeds’ never-say-die attitude.
If you remember the great Leeds United 4–5 Liverpool match from 1991, you’d have recognised that heart-swelling spirit in the Leeds Ladies team as they fought back against one of the title favourites.
“That’s the spirit of this Leeds team and it’s the most consistent thing you will see all season,” says Emma. "I told the girls at the start of the game that I didn’t care what the score was or how the game was going, but they were not to stop until the last whistle.
"That first half was tough – physically and mentally. We were under the floodlights in a big game against lots of players that we knew.
“We hold our hands up and fully admit that we were a bit over run in the first half. Guiseley are very strong going forward and at times it felt like they were playing four attackers against our four defenders. That left Vicky Fytche and Erin White an awful lot to do to help us out at the back.”
That rearguard action seemed to frustrate Guiseley. Despite controlling the game for long spells their second goal had come through a freak bounce that caught out Leeds keeper Lucy Whewall, while their fourth was as in answer to Hannah Campbell’s excellent 40th minute strike. Leeds were off-form in the first half, but their opponents didn’t look much happier despite their 4–1 lead.
“Guiseley are going to be a force this season, and it wasn’t a surprise to hear them still going full throttle and not being satisfied with what they were getting,” says Emma.
"I think part of that is because they expected us to be a lot easier to walk over than we actually were. Yes they were beating us, but these guys were expecting to come and hammer us 10-0 so when chances weren’t going their way and we were clearing up, biting back and getting our foot in, they didn’t expect it and they didn’t like it.
“We came out in the second half having re-grouped a little bit and had a chat at half time about our tactics and our approach to the game. The second half we battered them. A very dubious penalty and a long range lob was all they had. We matched them pound for pound in the second half and we never once stopped fighting.”
Manager Jak Oldroyd had gone with an experienced line-up to start the game, but as Leeds gained a foothold in the second half the introduction of pace from young forwards Shelbey Morris and Sophie Varley gave Guiseley’s defenders something new to think about. Varley in particular didn’t give them a moment’s peace and it was her pursuit of a lost cause that provided Carey Huegett with a cross for Leeds’ second. Down the right, Emily Starkie’s performance at right-back earned her the players’ vote as woman of the match.
“Starkie was class!” says Emma. "Because she is naturally a forward she is very attacking minded – she just wants to bomb on and get us higher up the field. I sometimes have to put the reins on her and drag her back to defence. But that’s okay, because we need a mixture of discipline and a sense of attack.
“I thought when Sophie Varley came on she was brilliant. She’s only tiny but she’s solid and really packs a punch. She’ll be knocking on the manager’s door soon asking for a starting shirt back.”
Although naturally disappointed by the result, the second half performance in particular has left Emma in no doubt that Leeds Ladies will compete this season.
"On paper Guiseley’s side looks top quality – the names in there are skilled, experienced and high level. What we have learned from this match is to take those names on paper with a pinch of salt. Yes they beat us, and yes we do have things to work on; but they didn’t beat us 10–0, and actually we’re the first team to score more than once against them – and at times we really had them rattled.
"We need to continue with the mentality that we do not know when we are beat. Everything we did, we did it with pride, with passion and with honesty. We may as well have a heart stitched onto our sleeves along with the new badge, because that’s where it’s shown.
“Who cares what the names say and what experience has gone before? We have our own names, our own stars and our own pride to shout about. We’re Leeds aren’t we?”
Leeds Ladies are at home again in their next match against Chester Le Street on Sunday September 7th at 2pm, at Knaresborough Town’s Manse Lane ground; entry is £2, or £1 for kids. Follow Leeds Ladies FC and the LLFC Supporters Club on Twitter for updates.