leeds ladies fall below par against chorley: “that can’t be allowed to happen”Back
Leeds Ladies’ first community day was a success off the field as young fans got a chance to experience a game at Manse Lane for free; but the result of the match against Chorley was not what they would have been hoping for.
The club welcomed young players from Skipton Town Juniors, Ripon Panthers Girls and others, who met the Leeds players before the game and got an insight into what it’s like to play for Leeds – as well as a few autographs.
“It was great to see all the young faces there and have a chat with them before the game,” says Leeds captain Emma Bentley. “I remember meeting Leeds United Ladies players when I was just getting into the game and thinking that I wanted to be just like them.
“It’s an important part of being a Leeds player: not just to do your best for your team and for yourself, but to be a role model for young players and inspire them to want to stay involved in football and hopefully play for Leeds themselves one day.
“It was good fun for us to start a match day with so many laughs and smiles, meeting some future stars and building links with their clubs. I only wish the weather had been a bit better!”
The match itself was still all important, but a week after one of their best performances of the season at Middlesbrough ended in a cruel 2–1 defeat, Leeds put in one of their worst on their way to losing by the same scoreline.
Just as it had been in Chorley a few weeks ago, it was a cold and blustery day in Knaresborough, but whereas in the away fixture Leeds had successfully adapted to the conditions and the opponents to win 4–1, this time they couldn’t find the invention required.
Chorley packed the midfield to stifle Leeds, who played into their hands by failing to find a way out of the congested areas of the pitch into the space they needed to play.
Leeds had the ball in the net first, Bridie Hannon catching Chorley out by chipping a quick free kick past the goalkeeper, but whereas a similar goal was given against Leeds in Stockport, different day and a different referee meant this time it was ruled out.
The referee was at the centre of the opening goal too. Near the hour a Leeds attack was snuffed out by a Chorley defender who appeared to use her arm to block a cross in the penalty area; moments later Chorley broke at the other end and Hannah Campbell took a yellow card for bringing a player down on the edge of the penalty area. Chorley made no mistake with their free kick to take a 1–0 lead.
That goal finally brought Leeds and the game to life, and Chorley’s lead only lasted two minutes before a corner from Emma Bentley was headed into the top of the net by Bridie Hannon at the back post.
“We’ve been looking dangerous from corners, so it was good to see that pay off,” says Emma. “I’ve been practising the delivery so that it’s more consistent and dangerous, and the girls have been practising the timings of their runs to get on the end of them. Bridie got perfectly onto that one and it was a great header.”
Leeds added more impetus with substitutes Sarah Lawn, Olivia Smart and debutante Karen Poshai, but the life was knocked out of their attempts to win the game when a long range Chorley shot was tipped onto the post by Leeds’ keeper Lauryn Colman but still snuck across the line to give Chorley the points.
“Unfortunately we have only ourselves to blame,” says Emma. “I think we looked lacklustre in places and didn’t play cleverly enough when it came to adapting our tactics mid-game. We lacked conviction and that edge that overpowered Chorley just a few weeks ago.
“The performance wasn’t what anybody who has seen Leeds this season has been accustomed to. We needed to raise the tempo long before they scored their goal, but that was the only thing that seemed to bring us to life. I was really disappointed that we didn’t show what we are truly capable of for the new faces who had come to see us.”
One positive for Leeds was the debut of Karen Poshai, who has impressed since joining the development squad and gave Chorley’s defenders problems when she came on.
“Karen was great. I saw her playing for the development team a few weeks ago and was instantly impressed. The manager was too and she has trained with the first team a few times since then.
“Karen has pace to burn and got in behind the defenders a couple of times on Sunday. It just shows what great potential we have for the future of this club.”
The immediate future for the club is the six games left to play this season. Liverpool and Guiseley have broken away from the rest of the division to make the title a two-horse race, but Leeds still have a lot of football left to play and Emma is determined not to drift to the end of the season.
“That can’t be allowed to happen. It’s been said that we’ve exceeded expectations already this season, but we must continue to do that right until the very end. I have always said that we don’t stop until it’s over, and that still applies whether we win, lose or draw.
“I don’t want to exceed expectations up to this point and then limp over the finish line. We need to keep going until the last game and give everybody connected to this club the finish they deserve.”
Leeds next game is a trip to Norton & Stockton Ancients on Sunday April 5th, followed by a home match against Middlesbrough on Sunday April 12th. Visit LeedsLadiesFC.co.uk, or follow Leeds Ladies FC and the LLFC Supporters Club on Twitter for updates.