By Brendan Devereux
Leeds Ladies finally returned to league action for the first time since mid-December as they hosted Sheffield United at Manse Lane. Although we had our doubts about the match when the game was delayed due to the referee going to the wrong ground, this led to chants of “Get the ref a satnav” when the teams finally came out at 2:30. With Sheff Utd propping up the table having only picked up a solitary point this season it was clear to see their game plan was damage limitation. The Blades spent much of the first 30 minutes with a very deep back line looking to sit back & try hit Leeds on the counter attack. This frustrated The Phoenix as they were resigned to shots from distance & half chances. Leeds frustration was compounded when after just 13 mins Carey “Kez” Huegett was forced off with a hamstring injury & was replaced by Shelbey Morris.
Leeds hard work was finally rewarded on the 34th minute as Lauren Griffiths split the Blades defence pen to release Hannah Campbell who slotted past the keeper for her 11th goal this term. Just 4 minutes later it was Griffiths again pulling the strings in midfield as she put through Morris to make the score 2-0. Leeds were unlucky not to go into the break with a 3 goal advantage as just before half time Campbell beautifully layed off a cross into the feet of Vicky Fytche who unleashed a vicious shot only to see it saved by the keeper. Leeds started the second half immediately putting Sheff Utd on the back foot when Bianca Ross picked up the ball on the edge of the box and let fly with only a deflection keeping the score 2-0 as the ball hit the post for a Leeds corner. On the 56th minute Leeds continued the pressure when Bianca Ross floated a inch perfect cross onto the head of Shelbey Morris all she needed to do was guide the ball home & make the score 3-0. Leeds began to turn the screw with Olivia Smart & player of the match Sophie Scargill constantly causing problems down the wings.
On the 64th minute roles were reversed as Campbell turned provider when she passed the ball to Bianca Ross who made no mistake & gave Leeds a 4 goal cushion. Leeds then dictated the play & Sheff Utd spent much of the remainder of the match chasing shadows. The difference in fitness levels began to show as The Blades were running on empty as the game drew to a close as tired legs & cramp began to hit The Blades & Leeds punished them in dying minutes.
First on the 89th minute Bianca Ross was again at the heart of the Leeds attack as she fed Shelbey Morris with a lovely through ball who cut the ball back to “Little Luca” Jemma White for an easy tap in to make it five. A minute late Ross once again had the ball & drove forward beating 4 players as the crowd screamed “PASS” Bianca had only one thing in mind & deftly curled the ball into the net for 6-0. Then came the goal of the match in injury time once again Bianca Ross found herself in possession on the edge of the area this time as the defender approached Ross flicked the ball over her head into the path of Jemma White who sweetly struck the ball on the volley in the vain of the great Marco Van Basten to send the Leeds faithful home happy with a 7-0 win.
After the match everyone was in great spirits which is evident in the post-match interview with Vicky Fytche, Bianca Ross & Sophie Scargill on the Leeds Ladies Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J0_N38X26c . Next up for Leeds is a trip to Chester-Le-Street on the 22nd where Leeds will be looking for a 5th straight win in the league to keep that Phoenix Rising.