University of Leeds 1s 0-2 Leeds Beckett 1s
Leeds Beckett claimed the spoils in a competitive local derby on a wet Weetwood Wednesday. It had already been confirmed before this fixture that both teams would be relegated, and therefore pride was the only thing at stake.
Uni looked intent on taking the initiative, forcing a corner after around 20 seconds. One minute later, the home side won a free-kick, which was curled wide by No.7 Jack Seccombe. However, it was not long before Beckett had broken the deadlock. A set-piece on the left edge of the box was whipped, with their No.11 pouncing on the loose ball ahead of keeper Alex Gunn to bundle home. The visitors were now beginning to attack more freely and increasingly dominating territory. However, the home side were also stringing together some neat moves, with Lu Ndovi and Jack Bullock combining well down the right, with the former shooting over from 20 yards around four minutes later. Despite these chances, Beckett were always dangerous, with their designated thrown-in taker sending in Rory Delap-esque bombs into the box, which the backline did well to clear. The opponents’ No.11 was also proving difficult to handle, and a last-ditch clearance was needed to prevent him from doubling his tally. After another Beckett effort was gathered in safely by Gunn, Ndovi and Seccombe linked up on the twenty-minute mark, but the shot was put agonisingly into the side-netting.
The game continued in this ebb-and-flow manner, with Ben Bowers starting to have an increasing influence on the game. However, Beckett posed a threat every time they ventured forward, with a couple of venomous crosses causing concern in the uni defence. They continued to pile on the pressure, going close with another free-kick and once again deploying the long throw to good effect. However, despite going close on a number of occasions, they could not increase their advantage.
Then came the sucker punch for the home side. Another looping throw was not dealt with, and confusion ensued in the penalty area, as the ball was flicked on and eventually bundled in past Gunn.
Despite the fact that the home side ended the half strongly, they recognised that they were facing an uphill battle.
It was Beckett though that had the first meaningful chance of the second half. A free-kick in a central position 25 yards from goal was thwacked against the bar, with the beads of rain that had collected on the crossbar flying off as the ball made impact. The boys were starting to play with a bit more verve, with pacey left-back Ben Cree flashing a shot wide and Kit Ellam fashioning a chance after weaving his way into the box. Cree’s pace was proving difficult to live with, and an inviting delivery found Seccombe, whose fierce drive drew an impressive save. Ellam’s set-piece delivery also required the attentions of the keeper, before Cree cut the ball back to Bowers, who guided a delicious left-foot strike against the bar.
With around 20 minutes to go, uni were still piling on the pressure, consistently finding joy down the left wing. Bowers again went close, cushioning a shot just wide from a corner. Beckett were still keen to put the game though, and a superb long-throw from the keeper released their left-winger, whose lofted cross was met at point-blank range and somehow put over the bar with the goal gaping.
Another free-kick from Ellam was headed away before uni were finally awarded a penalty for a push in the box. Ellam stepped up, but the ball narrowly skimmed the crossbar, causing exasperation amongst the home contingent and joy in Beckett’s ranks. Just three minutes later, another penalty was awarded, as Cree went on a mazy dribble before being bundled over. However, once again, the penalty was not converted, as the keeper dived to his left to gather the ball in. Uni had one more chance before the game was, but the shot was blocked over.
Despite the win, both teams were disappointed at the outcome of a difficult season. However, all three matches between the two sides this year were keenly-fought, and there is no doubt that this will be the case again next season, albeit in a lower division.