By Gary Cooper
On a sunny afternoon in the first home game at Knaresborough Leeds Ladies earned what might prove a valuable point come the end of the season against another determined opponent in Chester le Street. In now customary style Leeds took the game by the scruff of the neck with a never say die attitude and first half wave of attack after attack testing the Chester defence time and again. With just 3 minutes on the clock Carey ‘Kez’ Huegett slotted a defence splitting ball which left pacey striker Shelbey Morris one on one with the keeper who just managed to get enough of a touch on the neat lob to prevent the ball reaching the goal line. Only 2 minutes later impressive new signing Lauren Griffiths struck a powerful shot from 30 yards at the goalkeeper and the first half continued with attack after attack by a very impressive Leeds side.
Hannah Campbell latched onto to a superb ball down the wing from Erin White and shot just wide shortly before the half hour mark and from the resulting free kick Chester had their first attempt on the Leeds goal which was ably saved by debutant goalkeeper Erin Boswell.
Following further attempts on goal by Kez, Shelbey Morris and captain Emma Bentley a clean ball through the defence left Hannah Campbell with a shooting opportunity which she didn’t waste and the score was a more than justified 1-0 with 5 minutes to the break, Hannah just can’t seem to stop scoring this season with four goals from four games. Just 2 minutes later a strike on goal by Jemma White saw the Chester keeper scrambling and reacting first Shelbey Morris was on hand to slot home Leeds second goal. 2-0 half time.
In a game that looked well and truly won with Leeds dominating possession manager, Jak Oldroyd, made two changes 10 minutes into the second half switching Jemma White and Shelbey Morris for Jodie Hartley and Bianca Ross respectively in a tactical move which all hoped would see the game put to bed but for some reason the changes rang for Chester too and within 10 minutes from a long ball over the Leeds defence they scored against the run of play. The goal seemed to spur Chester on and despite continued attacks by the battling Leeds once more they were hit on the break with fifteen minutes remaining and the scores were levelled at 2-2.
Leeds pushed hard for the winner, Bianca Ross ran at the defence with purpose and Kez just couldn’t connect cleanly with a ball slid across the Chester goal by the impressive Emily Starkie and the game ended with spoils shared.
The Leeds girls were clearly disappointed to have drawn a game that for so long they dominated but at such an early stage in the season when it seems anyone can beat anyone else a point could prove invaluable come May. Hannah Campbell deservedly earned WOTM award amongst a host of solid performances, Erin White, Catherine Hammill and Molly Cawthorn all worked hard and showed their determination and if the first half performance is anything to go by a very exciting season has only just begun.
On to Sheffield away next week and hopefully a second win of the season.
By Alton Harewood
SPOTLIGHT ON: Souleymane Doukara
DOB: Sept. 29, 1991
POB: Meudon, France
Height: 1.86m (6ft 1in)
The Italian connection theme Massimo Cellino has introduced brought Souleymane Doukara to Leeds, initially on loan, but prior to the end of the transfer window on September 1st he was given a permanent 3 year deal. The young player hails from Calcio Catania. With his Italian club entering Serie B last year after a quite amazing previous year, Doukara has had a difficult time making the first team. Most of his time this past year with the club has in fact been on loan.
Leeds picked him up on loan too and his presence was felt in early games this season. He scored twice in fact against Accrington Stanley and looked strong against Middlesbrough. Since his benching due to an injury sustained in that game, Leeds have not shown some of the early flair that started to get hopes up. Doukara will be out for a few more weeks but his early performance is a proof point around the fact that it is possible to pick up talent within the budget Cellino has been using and Leeds can attract good players.
Though he was born in France, presumably has French citizenship and speaks both French and Italian, Doukara can qualify to play for Senegal by virtue of both of his parents birth place and expressed his interest earlier in 2014. There was a neat little interview with Doukara in French that revealed a little about the way he thinks and I've paraphrased some key points below (French being one of the joys of living in Montreal):
He speaks with fondness of his deceased manager Malick Ba appreciative that he got him into the Italian leagues. His first year was tough due to language (think Leeds & English...) but he had friends that helped him out (the little Italian clique and perhaps the Swiss too may help him in that respect)
He talks about the early efforts to establish himself in the lower Italian leagues and looking forward to scoring for Catania. (Something he didn't achieve with them yet has already started at Leeds.) He keeps a solid head and his reasons for taking loan contracts really were down to wanting to play. He talks about having a good, positive aggression as a player. It is in this interview he talks about the idea that he'd like to play for Senegal
Thanks @FranckieTourdre for the interview, it helped provide some interesting background about Doukara from his own lips!
In addition to his striking capabilities, Doukara has strength to play the wing, a position not favored by the recent departing coach, perhaps we will see some of his capabilities upon his return to the squad.
On va dire bienvenue (We're going to say welcome...) to Leeds United Souleymane! MOT!
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.
By Gary Cooper
I am one of those bloody annoying people that when told “You can’t do that” I become even more determined to do it and nine times out of ten I do! As a father of four daughters I have a wealth of experience when it comes to girls being told they ‘can’t do that’ and invariably they become utterly single minded and do it any way – what a deadly combination if both scenario’s happen at the same time?
Well they did this summer, at a close season meeting I was told that the stakeholders in Leeds United Ladies FC could not run the club with any degree of success, that we couldn’t independently manage and fund the club, that LUFC would not allow a ladies team use of the name or the badge and effectively that women’s football at Leeds was to end. The girls who played for Leeds United Ladies were told the club was being disbanded and they should look elsewhere to play their football, neither I nor the majority of the girls were willing to let that happen and with the excellent support of parents, sponsors, fans and the wider Leeds family we proved the doubters wrong.
In July 2014 Leeds Ladies FC was born from the ashes of destruction as Leeds United Ladies lay discarded and abandoned by LUFC the club loved by players and fans alike having fallen victim to the restructure/rethink/re-evaluation of operating costs and priorities. LUFC and its decision makers may well feel justified in that decision and many LUFC fans will not really care as predominantly their interest is of course in the men’s team and what they perceive to be Leeds United. I don’t have a problem with that, I love Leeds United and have for as long as my living memory allows but I don’t have to like the actions of the custodians present or past and I don’t have to agree with all the decisions they make and in taking the decision to disband the ladies team I believe Leeds United let down it’s family, it’s community and 50% of the population it serves.
Why shouldn’t the girls of Leeds aspire to play for their home town club? Why shouldn’t women’s football enjoy the passion and pride that goes hand in hand with football in Leeds and has done for almost a century both on the pitch and on the terraces? Leeds United Ladies did not have to cost LUFC a penny so any suggestion that financial matters dictated the clubs decision to discard it’s women’s team simply don’t make sense. The decision was taken anyway.
The fans and players had been told they couldn’t support or be Leeds United Ladies but such is the strength, the pride and the passion of all concerned the ashes of destruction gave birth to the legendary Phoenix that was to become Leeds Ladies FC. Within three weeks the team, manager, committee, supporters group and funding to begin a season as Leeds ladies FC was in place, a quite remarkable achievement in itself but what followed from the wider Leeds community was nothing short of incredible. Following a plea for player sponsors and a hope that the plight of the ladies team might supported no less than 51 individuals, forums, fanzines, bloggers, fan groups, local businesses, community groups, bands such as Cadillac Jukebox and The Kaiser Chiefs and LUFC players Noel Hunt and Aidy White stood up to be counted and sponsored Leeds Ladies FC players. Fans from Norway, Australia and even South Africa offered support and sponsorship, other women’s football clubs and bodies came forward (Scarborough Ladies FC in particular who have been amazingly supportive) and offered help, advice, guidance and encouragement sharing our belief that the Leeds should have a women’s football team and that the game is better for it. The FA, the WRCFA, the FAWPL all helped massively to ensure we could make this happen and with all of that support the Phoenix unfurled its wings, raised its head, opened its eyes and looked straight into the faces of those who said ‘No’ and “You can’t do it” and with her legendary grace she flapped her wings and rose from the ashes, proud and free to live again.
Her journey has only just begun but it is a journey many were convinced wouldn’t happen – they were wrong.
If you would like to see what the fuss is about and why anyone cares about women’s football and Leeds ladies FC come along to a game, our fixture list can be found on our website http://www.leedsladiesfc.org.uk/index.php or check out our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LeedsUnitedLadies?fref=ts for news and updates but most of all come along to a game, you might be surprised by what you see.
By Mark Rasdall
For Leeds United fans this has been the most exciting transfer window in history. Fifteen players have joined the club and the emphasis on youth and flair is fantastic.
Matt Smith and Dominic Poleon left the club, and Tom Lees before them. For all his height and threatening physical presence I have always felt underwhelmed by Matt Smith's actual ability in the air - witness the last minute header over the bar against Bradford - and his ability to actually make the difference that people say he brought to the squad and which we will now miss.
With Poleon and Lees I am not convinced they would/will go on to a higher level and are probably somewhere between being good League One players and average Championship players. I have to say that I think Luke Murphy may be in the same boat.
With each of the above, Neil Redfearn will have had a view and that view will have been listened to. For me, he has been the saving grace over the last few years when the usual LUFC madness has prevailed. 'Thank goodness Neil is still there' has been my late-night mantra to my sleeping wife. I believe he has done a fantastic job at the Academy and with the Development Squad and the emergence of Lees, Byram, Poleon, Mowatt, Taylor, Cook and Dawson - to name just some of his charges - in recent years is testament to the outstanding coach that he is.
Neil is a West Riding man and understands what it means to be part of the biggest club in Yorkshire. I think that provides the feet on the ground for others to hit that same ground running. Eddie Gray always understood the importance of youth development and encouraged it in the same way as Neil, being part of the most successful team in our club history whose core was developed and nurtured through that same process.
We are also the biggest one-city club in Europe and I do worry about Neil having to work more closely with Cellino and dealing with a multi-national squad which will move him away from the heartland of coaching young players that he obviously loves - and is the unsung hero of our club for doing - year after year. Cellino has saved us - no doubt at all about that - but I don't know whether he would give even Neil the time he or anyone else will need to mould a team that can make a successful bid for promotion and Premier League competitiveness.
I wholeheartedly approve of Neil having the chance to progress as has been his philosophy with his players and why shouldn't he have the opportunity to do so? I also worry, though, that if things didn't work out we would lose Neil not only as head coach but as any kind of coach and that he would leave the club altogether. That to me would be tragic and a much bigger loss to us than any individual player.
My wife and I celebrated twenty six years of marriage yesterday (and yes, she knew that Leeds United were my first love as much then as now!); our best man read out a letter from the club wishing us a happy future together and the club promptly lost 4.0 at Portsmouth (obviously!). It has been a very happy marriage but, apart from Howard's revolution, a Charity Shield, some memorable European nights and a trip to the old Wembley for that League Cup final, we have lost a generation, largely through financial turmoil.
For some football supporters, the above would have been more than enough, but we have to strive harder and I really want Neil to be part of that - for the long-term. I didn't compromise over my wife or choice of football club - it was love at first sight in both cases. I think Neil is the best man for doing what he does, playing just behind the front man, and the thought of (quite understandably) impatient Leeds United fans turning against him in droves if he didn't get instant success fills me with horror.
By Alton Harewood
Unprecendented, a transfer window unlike any in recent history, indeed in Leeds United history never has there been so many players leaving and joining the club, including a handful on "try before you buy" loans. Massimo Cellino true to his word is making things "different next year."
Off to a slow start in the league with 6 points from a possible 15, Leeds needed significant activity before the closure of this first transfer window of the season. Securing a young Brazilian star on loan from Flamengo (come on, any football fan will feel a slight shiver at having a player from a Brazilian team with the reputation of Flamengo who has worn the yellow shirt!), with an option to buy, who is yet to shine at club level, the arrival of ADRYAN Tavares (@adryantavares) looked to be the icing on the cake. Yet, more was to come in the form of a friend of the young Brazilian, Dario Del Fabro from Cagliari, this could be an element of both smart position coverage and team chemistry on the part of the complex man that is Cellino. Check out pics on Dario's Twitter feed @FabroDario and you get a feel for the camaradery that already exists.
Wait! There's more, as the transfer deadline came to a close, Leeds also signed 21 year old Paraguayan Brian Montenegro from Nacional. This young forward did have a run out with West Ham a few years ago so he'll have some English football understanding though not the experience he'd have liked!
Typically, the Leeds fan base, made social media rather unsocial with their late window criticism of the official Leeds feed @LUFC, which is frankly pretty weak and well propped up by Phil Hay @PhulHayYEP and Adam Pope @apopey from whom the news appears to break faster and more reliably! The Leeds Twitter team appeared to lead on the fans towards the end of the window, possibly anticipating a late in-bound transfer but delivering news of two outbound transfers with Smith heading to complete the Fulham Leeds lineup and Poleon heading to Oldham. To be fair to both players they want to play and needed to examine their options to get first team action. An aside for poor Pearce who issued a tweet at the wrong time, misunderstood, though it was rather cryptic, fans thought he was referring to an incoming event but he called it out as something related to a TV program. God forbid you tweet about something other than our beloved team!
As ever the abrupt and attention deficit ridden fan base, ignored the huge transfer effort, scowled across social media at the close of the evening and the Rolling Stone song echoed in our ears. Really though, at the end of this window, look at what Cellino has accomplished: 15 new faces at Leeds, led by an early Italian foray, adding youth that can be guided by Redfearn, strength in Antenucci and Doukara, experience with Sloth (pronounced Slot) style and skill in Adryan and we haven't even begun to talk about the mastery and passion of Silvestri in goal and Sharp up front. I don't feel inclined to list them all again so take a look at this comprehensive outline of the movement in, and out http://www.soccerbase.com/teams/team.sd?team_id=1524&teamTabs=transfers
Lick your lips, and you can TRY, you can TRY, you can TRY, you can TRY, to get some, satisfaction! 'Cos "...yeah, yeah, yeah", Leeds are back and we have everything to look forward to this season!
By Keith Ingham
Fifteen players have strode manfully into the gates of the Theatre of Hope and it is to be hoped that their stay will provide Leeds fans plenty to be encouraged about. Two goalkeepers who in both their own ways have shown already that they will do their best to keep out opponents efforts on our goal. Yes, not perfect but the games against Bradford City, where Stuart Taylor kept us in the game and Marco Silvestri's incredible double save versus Bolton plus another three good saves that kept out Wanderers. A good start by both.
The defenders we've already seen have left their marks on the opening games Guantano Berardi, had a unspectacular debut until a 'Kung fu' kicked nearly separated an Accrington Stanley player's middle. A rash challenge that merited the sending off he received. Liam Cooper arrived from Chesterfield for rumoured to be over half a million pounds and in his first game against Middlesborough he strode through the game and looked composed. Even trying a 'Alan Hansen' sortie into midfield. The only downside was Jason Pearce being moved to right centre back where he looked less assured than on the left. Giuseppe Bellusci finally got his papers through after a delay caused by a Italian holiday and for his first half display at Watford he looked comfortable then blew his lines when he misjudged a high and hopeful ball and was sent off for bringing down a Watford player through on goal. Dario Del Fabro has yet to wear the white shirt but comes with international appearances at youth level, so again looks promising,
The already top heavy midfield was increased even further with four players, Tomasso Bianchi has been seen the most. Very comfortable on the ball even though midfield was a problem during the 'Hockaday' period, when I've watched him he's always tried to be positive as others around him disappointed. Zan Benedicic has only come on as a substitute in the Accrington and Bolton games, when match fit will be a good signing, I'm hoping. Casper Sloth from Denmark played also versus Bolton and played in front of the midfield, another positive player, who has represented Denmark at full international level. Lastly, hopefully the best of the lot, Adyran a loan signing with the possibility of a permanent deal already in place once attracted attention from the team in Salford but turned them down. Rumoured to be the next 'Kaka', looks (on YouTube video's) a player of quality and one I can't wait to see in a Leeds shirt.
With Ross McCormack, 29 goals and the Deadline day departure of Matt Smith who scored 13 goals gone to Fulham, Leeds will look to 'Sully' Doukara, already a double scorer versus Accrington and who looked lively after a nervous first appearance at Millwall. It's a shame a crude tackle has sidelined him for a time. Billy Sharp has been courted many times by Leeds but deals never materialised. In his first appearance for Leeds he scored at the Revie End to win the game versus Middlesborough. His celebration was a joy to see and many female fans fell for the less than fat lad from Sheffield!. Nicky Ajose has had a few games but has yet to win over the fans but has one thing that we need, a little pace around the penalty box. Hopefully he will improve. Mirco Antenucci although only has been seen in a couple of matches he has the movement and craft to unlock most defences, though he's in his late twenty's he still is a promising purchase. Brian Montenegro completes the long list and another not seen in a Leeds shirt but looks like he could cause teams problems as a striker or a winger. One thing is certain Leeds will need their new striking options to weigh in with at least double figures to compensate for the loss of Ross and Matt. McCormack was always going to leave but I thought Smith was a good impact player and should have been kept.
There you have it fifteen, hopefully better players than the ones they've replaced. Massimo promised a new team and he has delivered the personnel. Now all we need is a good quality man to coach them. That might be a little harder to find.
On On On