Once again it was another beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon that provided perfect football weather to alongside our perfect footballing facilities at Knaresborough FC and couldn’t help noticing that has The Phoenix continues to rise so does the attendance at Manse Lane. With more and more people bringing their children along for what is without a doubt the best family atmosphere in football.
Expectations were high for this game; Leeds Ladies were sitting in 4th in the league undefeated in three games and winners of their last two with Liverpool Marshalls two points above them in 3rd this truly was a top of the table clash. Leeds Ladies were determined to prove that hard work determination, passion and pride are the corner stones of a successful team and put all that into action straight from the first whistle. If they were supposed to treat Liverpool Marshalls with respect then somebody forgot to pass that memo to the team!
Leeds Ladies took control of the game straight from the off with Kez’s sublime little flicks and chips constantly putting Hannah Campbell and Shelby Morris through on goal and causing some real hassle from the Liverpool keeper. Leeds ladies fans were in full voice has an Hannah Campbell shot was punched clear by the keeper on the 11th min only for Kez to latch onto it on the edge of the area with a stunning half volley to make it 1-0 and give the phoenix an early but well deserved lead. Unfortunately the lead wasn’t to last too long has the referee ignored cries for handball on the 19th min and Liverpool made the most of there first chance of the game to level the score sheet at 1-1.
The equalizer gave Liverpool a bit of confidence and they started to get their foot in the game. What had started as Leeds Ladies piling on the pressure quickly became a midfield battle between two very evenly matched sides. Leeds ladies showed remarkable strength in depth for such a newly formed club when Jemma White (who had bossed the midfield) came off injured on the 29th min and was replaced by Erin White. For the fans this was wonderful to see. We had just lost a hugely talented battling midfielder only to replace her with a hugely talented battling midfielder! When Erin put in her first tackle Liverpool became disheartened again and Leeds once more took charge of the game and were unlucky not to go into halftime in the lead after Hannah Campbell shot beat the keeper only to hit trickle towards the post and go wide on the 44th min.
Halftime saw the fans quietly confident that keeping up this level of performance would no doubt see yet another Leeds Ladies win but those hopes took an a blow early into the second half when Shelby Morris went off injured on the 53rd min while the ever impressive and battling Vicky Fytche did an excellent job linking up the midfield with attack it was plain to see we missed Shelby’s pace. The rest of the second half was a pretty scrappy affair and Kez nearly lifted the Leeds fans spirits when she saw the keeper of her line in the 60th min and tried a long distance lob, she successfully beat the keeper but was foiled by the crossbar.
Never side really had many chances in the second half has the midfield battle became a scrappy stalemate Kez continued to harass the goal keeper with a few more long range efforts that kept the keeper on her toes and woman of the match Bridie Hannon consistently cleaned everything up at the back. Leeds thought they had stole a winner on the 41st min when Hannah Campbell headed a corner low and hard to the back post only for the keeper to pull out a fantastic save and keep Liverpool in the game. Fans all up and down the touchline thought this game was going to finish in a deserved and fair point for both sides, but Liverpool had different ideas and a nothing attempt on goal seemed to bobble around the area between yellow shirts and blue shirts. Legs swinging desperately trying to get to the ball and resulted in Liverpool scoring a heartbreakingly scrappy goal bang on 90 mins to take a 2-1 win. Any loss is hard but to undeservedly go behind to a goal when there is no time to respond is soul destroying. But as you can see in our post match interview with Bridie Hannon and Vicki Fytche on YouTube this phoenix spirit cannot be destroyed. You cant rise without challenges so now we look to the next challenge of Guisley vixens away on Thursday night. We played them only recently and while we lost 6-3 we had them scared by the end and I think this time the result will be very different indeed. #PhoenixRises
Reporter – Martin Chadwick Photography– Alex Knight