The Phoenix rises to the challenge

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The hashtag #PhoenixRises is not some bloated self indulgent promise that we will storm the league, it’s not even a even a boastful claim that we will beat everyone we play.  It’s a statement of intent that the team will never be written off and will rise to every challenge thrown at them.

With every war battles are won and lost but the belief we are on the side of the righteous and with troop morale high we will ultimately win the campaign. This is exactly what happened at Harrogate railway on Thursday night when Leeds Ladies went head to head with Guiseley vixens, one of if not the strongest team in the league.

Guiseley Vixens have recently seen their squad vastly improved by the coming together of Guiseley, Rothwell and Leeds Vixens to form Guiseley Vixens. A newly formed Leeds Ladies squad was always going to have a difficult time in this game. Manager Jak “The Special One” Oldroyd chose to go for a line up of experienced players over the youth he has trusted in our previous games.

Guiseley Vixens have recently seen their squad vastly improved by the coming together of Guiseley, Rothwell and Leeds Vixens to form Guiseley Vixens. A newly formed Leeds Ladies squad was always going to have a difficult time in this game. Manager Jak “The Special One” Oldroyd chose to go for a line up of experienced players over the youth he has trusted in our previous games.

As the first half got underway the fans were treated to the hard fought crunching game we were expecting of a local derby but the deadlock was broken in eleven minutes as Leeds failed to clear a free kick put into the area and Guiseley pounced to make it 1-0.

Guiseley started to take control of the game and Leeds keeper Lucy Whewall put on a fine display of shot stopping only to have a simple knee high ball hit a bobble and bounce past here as she came to collect it, 2-0 Guiseley and extremely harsh on Lucy who had been brilliant between the sticks in her new fetching pink keeper kit.

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Leeds were at this point playing too narrow and this made it all too easily for Guiseley who went on to make it 3-0 on the half hour mark. To say the supporters were disappointed at this point is an understatement but as always we didn’t stop singing and the girls never dropped their heads. We were rewarded for our vocal supporter on 40 mins when Hannah Campbell unleashed a cracking strike to make it 3-1. The phoenix was starting to fight back! A final five minutes of sustained pressure from Leeds started to expose some of the Guiseley weakness but the defence switched of for a moment and Guiseley pounced with a 20 yard lob to make it 4-1 at half time.

Half time talks between fans seemed to focus on the weaknesses we had exposed in Guiseley and how to make the most of them so imagine our disappointment when on 53mins Guiseley pulled out an amazing dive straight from the Ashley Young guide to diving handbook. The referee took so long to make his decision that we were all planning our Christmas dinners by the time he blew the whistle and awarded a penalty. The spot kick was duely converted to make the scoreline 5-1 but still the phoenix refused to give in the fight.

Leeds brought on Shelby Morris and Sophie Varley who linked up with the angry and attack minded Kez and Starkie to begin a fantastic campaign of terror against  that reaped its rewards on the 68th minute as  Sophie Varley rescued a Shelby Morris cross on the byline to whip it in perfectly for kez to tuck it away from close range to make it 5-2

A screaming shot from Guiseley on the 70th minute put Guiseley 6-2 and the game to bed…….or so they thought. They soon learn that The Phoenix never gives in. You want to fight The Phoenix you better be prepared to fight for the whole 90 mins. We just don’t know when we are beat. Point proven on 84mins when Kez took a free kick from the right hand corner of the area and expertly placed into the top left corner, the keeper never had a chance.

With the score now at 6-3 Leeds continued to ask questions of Guiseley and they managed to hold on for the final 5 minutes but it was clear to see they were rattled by the fight and passion of this Leeds side. We may have been beaten 6-3 but we can hold our heads up high. The phoenix rose to the challenge and gave a good account of herself and as a fan, win lose or draw you can never ask for more than that.

Reporter – Martin Chadwick    Images – Alex Knight

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