By Martin "Badger" Chadwick
On yet another Beautiful sunny afternoon that was just perfect for football, Leeds Ladies FC lined up against Norton and Ancients FC for a very entertaining (albeit slightly delayed) league fixture. Due to extensive road works in and around Knaresborough the Ladies kit wasn’t at the ground on time and kick off had to be delayed by 20 mins, but a minor issue like no kit doesn’t faze the phoenix and Norton were soon to realise this.
To say Leeds took control of the match would be an understatement as they had a total of 7 attempts on target within the first 14 minutes of the game, the only thing keeping Norton in this fixture was their goalkeeper who continued to pull out top drawer saves with ever increasingly frustrating consistency.
Watching the girls play was sublime to say the least. Jemma White in central midfield battling for every ball, Lauren Griffths alongside her beating opposition in a way that could only be described as dancing. Bianca Ross with her trademark spins and turns, Shelby Morris and Hannah Campbell running their weekly marathons and Kez with her wonderful, cheeky game changing flicks. Beautiful simple triangular passing that had the crowd chanting “we have more triangles than a box of dairylea!” All that was missing was a goal, and after constant none stop pressure from Leeds and a seemingly unbeatable display of goalkeeping from the Norton keeper we were starting to think it just wasn’t our day. Then a dizzying spin and quick through ball from Bianca ross put Shelby Morris one on one with the keeper on the 38th min to finally make it a fully deserved 1-0 lead.
The 40th min brought Nortons first chance on goal which was comfortably saved by Lauryn Colman and to be fair only warrants mentioning in order to emphasis just how much the Phoenix was dominating the game and battering the Norton goal until the first half came to a close.
Now its usually at this point in my match reports that I give you a quick insight into the deep tactical discussions and the strategic genius of the Leeds Ladies supporters but someone shouted from the club house “Get in here quick and laugh at scum” at which point we piled in en masse just in time to see Leicester awarded a penalty to go 5-3 up against Manchester united so the rest of half time was spent laughing and taking the mick if I’m been honest.
As the laughter and jokes subsided and the players took to the field for the second half we were shocked to see that Norton had subbed their keeper which was bewildering as she was really the only Norton player on the pitch that was keeping them in the game and it didn’t take long for Leeds Ladies to drive that point home as Kez rose above the Norton defence to double the lead on 50 mins.
Unfortunately momentary lapses in defence lead to Norton pulling a goal back on the 52nd to take the score to 2-1. It was Norton’s second chance of the game and gave them a goal they really didn’t deserve but lead to five minutes of football in which Norton began to dictate the pace of the game and start to get stuck in. no one felt this more than Emily Stark who got a fair few bruising tackles her way and took a far few hard hits. The fans could see her getting angry and frustrated and just has we were worried she might kick out at someone she decided to get her revenge by seeing the keeper of her line and shooting from the halfway line! It was a wonderful weighted ball that seemed to travel in slow motion until it beat the keeper and just hit the bar to go over. That cheeky if somewhat audacious attempt at goal served as a proverbial rallying cry for the Phoenix and Leeds began to take control of the game again. Consistently beating the Norton defence again and again to frustratingly miss that final touch or snatch and scuff at the shot.
Leeds were award a 77th min long range free kick and the supporters hearts were full of glee when Kez stepped up and told Bentz “this ones mine, you go to the back post”. Kez struck yet another sweet long range effort to make it 3-1 to Leeds Ladies. Although after the game Emma Bentley informed me she is claiming an assist for giving the keeper a cheeky nudge has the ball was heading goal wards.
Leeds continued to dominate the game and finally put it to bed on the 83rd min when Jodie Hartley finished off a mesmerising run by playing Hannah Campbell through on goal to make it 4-1. Hannah Campbell is still the clubs top scorer and has scored in every game except the season’s opener and seems to get hungrier with every goal she scores.
So all in all it was a 4-1 win that was not only deserved but a joy to watch. The score line in no way shows the confidence in this young team. Lauren dancing through midfield. Bianca Spinning in circles so much you get dizzy watching her. Shelby and Hannah and not seeing who can run the most in a game but starting to have a serious goal scoring competition. Kez with her game changing cheeky flicks and Starkie having a pop from halfway! All presided over super skipper Emma Bentley who constantly fights for every ball and shouts encouragement throughout the game. Next Sunday ids Liverpool Marshalls at our home in Knaresborough. Leeds Ladies are currently 4th in the league, 2 points behind Liverpool and 3 points from top. This really is going to be a game you don’t want to miss.