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middlesbrough lfc 6-0 leeds ladies fc: learning curve

middlesbrough lfc 6-0 leeds ladies fc: learning curve

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A blistering opening twenty minutes from league leaders Middlesbrough left Leeds with next to no chance of taking anything from their trip to Thornaby.

Two breakaway goals and two goals from corners gave Boro a commanding 4–0 lead with fifteen minutes still to play in the first half.

A penalty straight after half-time, and a cross-cum-shot that found the net with ten minutes left, gave the scoreline a scale that in truth Leeds didn’t deserve to suffer. Although this must go down as Leeds’ worst display of the season — coming just a week after their best, a 5–2 win over Chorley — they responded well to the shock of the opening stages and never stopped hunting for a goal.

Leeds weren’t completely out of the game in those opening twenty minutes either, and had chances of their own to score; but while Leeds couldn’t take their opportunities, Middlesbrough were clinical.

“They were very good and we weren’t,” says Leeds captain Emma Bentley. “I can’t think of any other way to put it. We were beaten fair and square, and the credit has to go to Middlesbrough. They’re a big, strong, experienced side, and I think they’ll win the league this season.

“I was gutted after the game. No matter how good Boro are, losing 6–0 is hard to take. I was frustrated by the way we played and frustrated by the outcome. But we just have to move on. We play Chorley again next week and although we beat them at Garforth, they have a good home record so it won’t be easy for us there. We’ll be working hard in training to make sure we bounce back.”

Hard work has been key for Leeds this season, as they have assembled a young side with promising players, whose inexperience can be exposed when facing wily opponents. Middlesbrough played with the visible confidence of a team that has only lost one league game all season, and only conceded three times at home, and part of the learning curve for Leeds’ young players is learning to cope with a team in form.

“We definitely have to take this on the chin,” says Emma. “We just have to deal with it, learn from it, and move on to the next game.

“We can learn a lot from these games and these situations, and put that into practice next time. Could we have adapted better, and sooner? If we’d gone more defensive could we have got a point against them? Would we have been perceived as a boring side for playing that way? Did we do the right thing trying to attack wherever possible, even though it left us vulnerable?

“It’s a learning curve, and we go away from this game with a lot to ponder. We can’t fix that result now, but we can look forward to the next one and fix things there.”

There was one upside to the match — the club’s new sleeve sponsorship kicked in, with Leeds — and their Development side, who suffered a narrow defeat to Middlesbrough reserves on the same day — wearing shirts bearing the logo of Leeds United fanzine The Square Ball (where I happen to be one of the editors, impartiality fans).

Leeds Ladies FC x The Square Ball • by Alex Knight

Leeds Ladies FC x The Square Ball • by Alex Knight

“It was great to have the new logos on our shirts, and I’m so happy that our partnership with The Square Ball goes from strength to strength,” says Emma. “We’ve had great support from the magazine and the forum since we started, and we truly appreciate it — every sponsor we get makes a massive difference to keeping this club going.

“There are still plenty of opportunities for sponsors to get on board, and I hope there’s a company out there who will follow TSB’s lead and become our main shirt sponsor. But what I’d really love to see is new faces in the crowd at Garforth. It’s only £3 to watch us play at home, and that’s the best of both worlds: supporting the club financially, and supporting the players during the game.”

Leeds next home game at Garforth Town AFC is against Norton & Stockton Ancient on Sunday November 22nd, at 2pm; the home fixture against Tranmere, scheduled for November 15th, has made way for a County Cup trip to Silseden. Follow Leeds Ladies FC on Twitter for updates.

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