A crisp and dry autumns day proved to be the perfect setting for this top of table Northern 1A clash with Durham, arguable one of the leagues elite, proving to be credible opponents. They were however proudly dispatched by an exceptional Leeds performance with the girls coming out as 11-6 victors.
Leeds won the draw and committed the games first attacking phase of play with Caitlin Baty gliding from the middle of the park to the opposition fan. Patient build up play from Baty and great movement from Leeds soon led the games first goal. Bella Hitchcock went around the net, dishing it off to Grace Haworth in front of goal who fired a low drive. The goal caught both Durham and Leeds off guard with Leeds expecting a much tougher test.
Leeds continued to look sharp with the attacking duo of Haworth and Lucy Yates proving a constant threat to the immobile Durham defence who continued to look uncomfortable throughout the half. ‘Haz’ Newton dummied and turned her marker after the restart, igniting a sudden Leeds attack. A quick passing move involving Becca Osbourne, Haworth and Cecily Melsom, again opened up a Leeds attack. A great save from the Durham keeper denying what would have been a spectacular play.
Durham however, despite their rather erratic display, provided a genuine threat on the counter. The experienced Leeds defence were able to contain the Durham pressure. Millie recovered possession, passing to Ellie Fleming and launching yet another Leeds attack with Bella Hitchcock scoring with a thunderous effort.
Durham called a time out after Leeds’s initial dominance. Leeds however continued to dictate play with momentum firmly on their side. With Leeds in the opposition fan, Haworth went into motion giving Baty an option. Haworth side stepped her marker, feigning right and scores with a one step shot giving Leeds a 3-0 lead. Leeds scored a further two goals but Durham replied after a foul and a solo effort by Durham’s left wing. Another two goals by Haworth however quelled Durham’s seldom response. Leeds went into the second half with a 6-3 lead.
The second half resumed in the same manner: Baty, Haworth and Yates continued to lead the attack whilst the defence remained composed and organised. A rare Durham attacked however managed to leak through midfield but was fortunately meant by a tirade of defenders with India Gurmail-Kaufmann and Becky Pigot leading by example.
A sudden lapse in concentration in midfield three minutes on, gave Durham possession. The Leeds defence, caught of position, haplessly watched on as Durham ran through for a goal. Irked by the error, the girls responded in emphatic fashion with a well worked, patient, passing play, slicing the Durham defence for yet another goal. Another tackle by Gurmail-Kaufmann sets up Yates who soars down the right flank passing it to Baty, who turns her marker and releases a rocket that ricochets of the crossbar.
Leeds attacking flair and industry however struggles to translate to defence with Durham finding more and more space and scoring two goals without reply. Another solo attack from Haworth halts Durham’s response with Leeds once again reaffirming their dominance. Leeds restarted the game playing more coherent and fast tempo lacrosse. The patient build up play was brought to an abrupt end with a Hitchcock collecting a pass from midfield lieutenant Baty releasing a rocket at the very edge of fan, the ball screamed past the Durham defence who were powerless in preventing the best goal of the game. A rapturous applause and screams from the Leeds sideline accompanied the Leeds celebration. The two goals deflated the Durham team who, despite scoring again, were unable to prevent conceding the 11th goal from 57. Leeds finished the game 11-6.
Leeds industrious and collective display was a pleasure to watch and an obvious result of the great team spirit and work ethic of the girls. They currently sit atop of Northern 1A unbeaten and are exemplars of the Gryphons badge.
Image courtesy of Alice Greenfield