I unfortunately missed last week’s game against Chester le-Street due to poor chairman Gary Cooper being struck by the evil flu! We lost that game in boggy conditions, so no recap for that one.
The conditions for this game were somewhat resembling those of the Antarctic. Snow blizzards meant that we went into the game unsure whether it would be played or not, but arriving at Batley (change of venue from Garforth due to the conditions and playing on a 3G pitch), the Leeds Ladies and Blackpool teams were already warming up, getting ready to go.
Whilst Gary and Adam sat in the warm car, I bravely got out and wandered on the side of the pitch and watched the girls warm up. The snow kept getting into my eyes and I was tasting it at the same time. I can assure you it just tasted like snow! Unaware Helen Wagstaff was walking round behind me (I was too busy talking to people!), I turned around and saw her running towards me and shouting “HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and gave me a huge hug! I was taken by surprise but I loved it and thanked her whilst she ran back to continue training.
Going into the game, we previously had beaten Blackpool Wren Rovers at Fleetwood 1-5 and I just sensed that we could get the same scoreline again. I predicted this to Bethan Davies who said she thought it would be 4-1.
The game kicked off and Leeds Ladies started putting some lovely moves together and threatened the Blackpool keeper’s goalmouth with no end product to show for the lovely passing. As it turned out, Blackpool struck with the first goal of the game from a corner and Leeds knew what they had to do to resolve this minor blip.
They cranked up the pressure on Blackpool who were fighting every attack with all their might but Arianne Parnham found a way through to level the scores at 1-1. This only served to fire up the Leeds Ladies and again more brilliant and scintillating attacks from the girls really put Blackpool on the back foot. Carly Hoyle and Waggi combined and put through some awesome balls to the attackers and one of these balls fell kindly to Veatriki Sarri who delightfully beat the keeper from range and took Leeds into the lead at half time with a 2-1 scoreline, not reflecting their constant attacking prowess.
The defence workhorses of Jodie Hunter, Catherine Hamill along with Megan Maxted and Eden Pedersen kept what shots Blackpool could muster well away from Aimee Routledge who truth be told had not a right lot to do.
I was given some handwarmers by Aimee’s dad and I was desperately rubbing them together to get them warm as it was affecting my photography and I was just stone cold err…cold! It was great to see former Leeds Ladies keeper Sarah Lewis-Hanson at the game and I’m telling you guys now, she is really, really funny! Elvis impressions galore and she was not fond of my choice of footwear for the game “PUMPS? ” was her cry as she saw my poor pumps!
As that was happening, the second half started and soon we were all moving from side to side to keep warm and I suspect we looked like penguins waddling which is quite fitting for the weather conditions!
Leeds came out strong again and this was clearly having an impact on Blackpool who struggled to get out of their half and Leeds made them pay with the third goal which was scored by Harriet Jakeman who replaced Arianne Parnham (who by the way put in an awesome shift in her time on the field) and I celebrated a bit wildly for her goal. Me and her mum were looking at each other with fists in the air as if to say “Yeah we knew she was going to score!”
This would not be the end of Leeds Ladies free scoring however as Waggi had a goal disallowed for offside but I may have to point out that she took her “goal” very well. The fourth goal was forthcoming (yep I had to say that!) and Simona Petkova sublimely stuck the ball into the net to give Leeds a reasonably healthy 4-1 lead.
At this point I can imagine Gary and Adam going “YES, WE’RE GOING TO WIN 4-1”. But I was still confident we’d get one more goal in and that we did when Marty Petkova came on from the bench and lobbed the hapless Blackpool keeper to add the finishing touches to what was an absolute breathtaking performance from Leeds Ladies. I did plenty of cheering at the end and rattled the fence (we were all told to stay outside of the pitch for the game!) like a wild animal wanting to be released. King Kong? Maybe!
I was about to go inside to take the game in when Jodie shouted “MAZ! Come over here!” pointing at the nets. I made my way over there and I was a bit confused and said “What’s happening here then?” And Waggi with her fine sense of sarcastic humour said “Well, you’ve come over here!”. Very funny! I was asked to sit in the middle for what would be a team photo and I was just taken aback. I couldn’t believe it! I was very thankful and handed Jodie some cupcakes and chocolate cake slices which I had bought for the team and they were very grateful and appreciative of that too.
We all headed inside and I was talking to Gary when a load of Dominos pizzas arrived and I was asked by Muggy to give one to the girls in the changing rooms. So I got hold of a box, proudly exlaimed to Shannon Beal who was walking towards me with “PIZZA DELIVERY!” and went to give the girls their pizza. Then as I was sat just musing over the game, Jodie handed me an plastic envelope and inside was a signed print of the team at pre-season and a birthday card signed by the girls.
I was gobsmacked (not the first time in the day I may add) and I rambled on by saying “Thank you, you didn’t have to do this, thank you!”. Completely overwhelmed with emotion (inside) outside I was being “rock hard” and refused to let the tears out. This club takes care of us fans.
By the way Bethan, I told you it was going to be 5-1!
TIAT Player of the Match – All were good on the day, but I have to acknowledge that Jodie Hunter was fantastic for me. She defended her lines with Cath and Megan and Eden so well and she got some attacks going with great balls too. Well done Jodie... and I personally thank you and the girls for making my birthday weekend really special. You guys are simply the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
BIG mention to the u15’s too who played Bradford earlier in the day and ran out 0-11 winners. Well done to the team. The entire team, and Belle Sibbald in particular, deserve a huge pat on the back for their effort in the game. No game for the seniors next week, but hopefully I can be writing a match report for the u16’s! See you next time.