By Brendan Devereux
After last weekend’s cup exit at the hands of Tranmere, Leeds Ladies were back in league action against hotly tipped title favourites Guiseley Vixens. Like Leeds, Guiseley is a newly formed team this season however this is due to the amalgamation of Leeds Vixens, Guiseley & Rothwell. Leeds started the match unfazed by the alleged difference in stature & the fledgling partnership of Carey “Kez” Huegett & Bianca “Binx” Ross picked up where they left off Sunday causing the opposition defence plenty of headaches.
In what was to be a running theme of the match just as Leeds were starting to get a foothold in the game Guiseley were awarded a free kick on 11 minutes & promptly scored putting the Vixens 1-0 up. Undeterred Leeds continued to press while Guiseley seemed content to rely on counter attacks & their pacey number 9. Once again Leeds were on top & looked more likely to score next when Binx was marginally ruled offside, Guiseley took a quick free kick & hit Leeds on the break & a tame shot from outside the area seemed to hit a bobble in the ground & unluckily go through the hands of keeper Lucy Whewall to put Guiseley 2 up after 23 minutes. As Leeds looked to get back in the game the pace of Guiseley’s attack was still a constant threat against a narrow Leeds defence & on the half hour mark Leeds were put to the sword again on the counter & Guiseley took a 3-0 lead.
The phoenix spirit of this Leeds side who never say die was clearly on show as shouts of 'its 0-0 we go again' could be heard from skipper Emma Bentley. Leeds hard work finally paid off 5 minutes before the break as Hannah Campbell latched on to a lovely through ball & slotted home to reduce the deficit to 3-1. As the first half drew to a conclusion Leeds were looking to build on the goal & looked the stronger side, however once again on the stroke of half time Leeds conceded to a cheeky 35 yard lob giving Guiseley a 4-1 lead going into the break.
During the break “The Special One” asked his players for a response & boy did he get it as Leeds came out second half all guns blazing. Leeds were dealt 2 early blows as first Binx was forced off the field due to injury followed by Tom Daley’s sister performing a triple somersault into a pike dive to “earn” Guiseley a penalty, which was duly despatched to once again give the Vixens a 4 goal cushion. All this served to do was get Leeds fighting even harder as Shelbey Morris & Sophie Varley replaced the injured Ross & Vicky Fytche respectively. The new blood immediately made an impact as Varley showed that phoenix spirit, refusing to stop chasing a ball that looked destined for a goal kick, she managed to keep the ball in & squared it to an open Kez who placed the ball home with ease.
As I said at the start there would be a running theme to the match, just as Leeds looked like the only side that would threaten to score the ball fell to a Guiseley player 35 yards out who let rip with a screamer which left Whewall with no chance & it was 6-2 to Guiseley. One thing in evidence this season is Leeds’ unwillingness to give up the fight until that final whistle goes & when Leeds were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, Kez pushed Emily Starkie away & that left us with no doubt where this ball was going before the ball was struck as Kez expertly stepped up & made it 6-3.
Leeds may have been beaten but lessons were learned as we went toe to toe with the so called defacto champions & came away with our heads held high. Onwards now to Chester-Le-Street on Sunday at our new home at Knaresborough, Manse Lane, Knaresborough, HG5 8LF. So come along with the family & watch the phoenix continue to rise.