Women’s football University of Leeds 3rds 5- 2 Sunderland 2nds
- Captain Jade Lord bags a brace
- First time in LUUWAFC’s history that all three teams win on same day
THERE was a lot of pressure on the Leeds University Women’s Football 3rd team as they arrived in Sunderland to face off against the University’s 2nd team. Despite a series of good performances earlier in the season, Leeds had failed to win a game this campaign. Sunderland were in the same position, and so the stakes were high as both teams looked to record their first win.
Upon arriving at Sunderland’s playing fields it was immediately obvious that the challenge was going to be made harder by the state of the pitch. Bad weather had made the pitch extremely boggy, especially in the centre and around the goal mouth. During the warm-up it was noticed that the ball often bobbled or stopped unexpectedly.
Despite this, the Leeds team were still confident and in high spirits. As the game kicked off, Leeds were immediately on the front foot, with winger Courtney Jay Dee striking the crossbar within the first two minutes. However Sunderland countered and their striker scored an excellent goal, lobbing the keeper to put her team unexpectedly ahead.
The disappointment was obvious among the Leeds team but their response was excellent. Acting as if the goal had never happened, they resumed their attacking play. This pressure eventually paid off, with the Sunderland ‘keeper spilling a fierce Leeds shot, which Natalie Espelid placed into the back of the net on what was her Leeds debut. Relief spread throughout the Leeds team and spurred them on to get another goal.
This came in the form of an own goal, but credit must lie with defender Brydie Greenwood. After clearing up a Sunderland attack, she went on an excellent run, beating nearly all of Sunderland’s midfield and defence. As she bore down on goal, the last Sunderland defender challenging her inadvertently kicked the ball into her own net, putting Leeds 2-1 up.
This was the score as the whistle blew for half-time, with the remainder of the first half consisting mainly of Leeds possession, with a few good saves from the Sunderland ‘keeper. The game began to slow as both teams started to tire, with the muddy pitch taking its toll.
Leeds went into the second half motivated to extend their lead. Within five minutes of the kick-off they had achieved this, with Courtney Jay Dee scoring an excellent goal from outside the penalty box. This was well-deserved after her many chances in the first-half. Leeds were 3-1 up and playing confidently.
Their dominance was nearly shaken by a dubious Sunderland penalty given by the referee. Luckily the Sunderland striker hit the crossbar and the Leeds defence cleared the ball away, retaining their two-goal lead.
The 60th minute mark saw the introduction of Leeds captain Jade Lord, who made an immediate impact. With her first touch she neatly took the ball around the final Sunderland defender and kept her calm in a one on one with the Sunderland keeper to make the score 4-1. A few minutes later and she had scored her second, securing Leeds’s first win of the season.
With the energy of the players running out, the game again slowed in the final 20 minutes of the game. With ten minutes left, Sunderland scored a consolation goal. After this, Leeds sat back to ensure that they did not concede again, and the game finished in this defensive manner. As the final whistle blew, the elation on the Leeds players’ faces was clear.
Leeds fully deserved their three points after an excellent and resilient performance, where they came from behind to win confidently. It was a brilliant day for Leeds University Women’s Football in general, with all three teams winning on the same day for the first time in the club’s history. The 1sts won against Manchester, having responded to slanderous remarks from earlier in the week to emerge 8-0 victors. The 2nds also recorded an excellent 6-1 win against Teesside 1sts. Overall the club scored 19 goals this week, showing that it’s only on its way up.
Featured image: Nancy Gillen