By Martin 'Badger' Chadwick
Thursday night saw the first return fixture of the season for Leeds Ladies and with it the first chance for revenge as the Phoenix took on Guiseley vixens on their own ground. Now plenty has been said about us been a young team and having almost no pre season but its time to put that to bed now so this is the last time I shall mention it but the turn around in the team in a couple of months is nothing short of miraculous and just proves the fans are right for calling Jak Oldroyd the special one.
For those of you who have recently joined Leeds Ladies and their journey it was only on the 9th September that we played Guiseley in the league and lost 6-3 in a game we well and truly took control of in the last half hour and had Guiseley worried. That same attitude was prevalent from the start of this return fixture as Leeds Ladies brought the pressure and aggression from the very first whistle.
The game was an end to end passionate affair with Guiseley first chance of the game coming on 11 mins and Leeds first chance on the 12th when Shelby Morris played Kez through the defence for her to deliver a cheeky little flick across goal that Hannah Campbell came agonizingly close to connecting with.
The fast attacking end to end pace continued until the 28th min when Hannah Campbell (who took a rare day from scoring last weekend) pounced to break the deadlock and make it 1-0 and send the Phoenix fans to louder raptures than ever before. We were still chanting about Hannah’s earrings and chocolates when on the 31st min Emily Starkie lofted a wonderful ball into the area from the halfway line for Hannah Campbell to get the slightest of touches and make it 2-0!
Guiseley were well and truly rattled at this point and used two subs in fairly quick succession. A fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the Leeds fans that had once again out sang any opposition support and jumped on this instantly.
The Leeds fans had been singing since the first whistle and just like the girls on the pitch they were putting in their best performance of the season to date and the girls were rewarding them for it. There is a wonderful symbiotic relationship between the fans and the players at Leeds ladies, the fans are crazy (http://thecitytalking.com// Dan Chapman favourite chant this week was “the fireworks are Leeds fans, the fireworks are Leeds fans nana nana”) and keep the players laughing and encourage them to continue when the game gets tough and in return the players fight to the last drop for the badge and the fans.
I strongly believe the fans were instrumental in helping the ladies hang on to the 2-0 lead as Guiseley threw everything at Leeds for the last 10 minutes of the first half but we went into the break deservedly 2-0 up at the atmosphere was bouncing. The mood at halftime was electric as everyone spoke hurriedly to each other as voices were already starting to go.
Leeds came out for the second half hungry to kill the game off and almost did when Emma Bentley rose to meet a Shelby Morris corner on the 52nd min and narrowly miss connecting with the header. Controversy entered the game on the 64th min when the referee judged a Guiseley player to have been brought down in the area when in fact it was just a step outside. Guiseley converted the penalty kick to make it 2-1, robbing Lauren Coleman of a well deserved clean sheet and undeservedly bringing Guiseley back into the game.
If Guiseley thought they were back in this and could take something from it they were very very much mistaken as only three minutes later a 67th min free kick from Kez was deflected for a corner. The resulting corner kick was met by a mass of white shirts climbing high above the Guiseley defence to make it 3-1. There is some confusion as to who actually put it in the net but it’s been claimed by Captain Emma Bentley as she was “dead close to it”.
Guiseley were well and truly beaten at this point as Leeds Ladies continued to attack relentlessly been spurred on by such chants as “ 4-1 and we sing for Jak” and “4-1 and we're on the pitch” which lead to a great bit of banter between the supporters and the linesman.
As the game reached the 85th min Leeds decided to give Guiseley a break from been constantly under pressure and were happy to play the game out in the corner but unfortunately the referee wanted the headlines for himself and played a ridiculous 12 mins of extra time! No one knows where that amount of stoppage time came from even the linesman was questioning if the referee knew what he was doing!
After 100 minutes of fast paced, brutally physical end to end football the players were shattered and tempers were frayed and unfortunately this resulted in a bit of an on pitch tussle between Vicky Fytche and a Guiseley player that resulted in Vicky been sent off. There was no need for so much injury time and the blame lies solely with the referee for an incident that should never have happened.
With a final score of 3-1 to Leeds Ladies, a whole host of supporters without voices and sat third in the league its fair to say that the phoenix has risen and is soaring high. We witnessed a strong, talented and dedicated football team with a team spirit that is unmatched by anyone walk away extremely comfortable winners against one of the best teams in the league.
Captain Emma Bentley sums it up best in the post match interview on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLf606fC2l4 ) when she says “we made a great team look average today”. Leeds ladies have declared themselves a force to be reckoned with in this league and Morecambe have got to be worried about visiting us on Sunday.
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