Boss Dan O’Hearne’s looking to take Leeds United Women to the next level

While the national lockdown keeps Leeds United Women off the pitch and training ground, head coach Dan O’Hearne is busy finding ways to improve the side.

Saturday, 14th November 2020, 5:58 am
Leeds United Women's head coach Dan O'Hearne with coach Martin Powell. Picture: Steve Riding.

As it stands, the Whites sit fifth in the table they must lead on the final day if they want to achieve their target of promotion to the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division.

Boss O’Hearne is glad that so far, no other team has made a serious case for the title. He said: “There’s usually one team that runs away with it, but I don’t see that happening this season, I see teams taking points off each other.

“A lot of teams have improved. We did say at the start of the season that this season was going to be a lot tighter.

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Leeds United Women's top goal scorer Laura Bartup, left, celebrates scoring against Durham Cestria. Picture: Steve Riding.

“It’s about consistency, and trying to get a run of results together.”

Leeds have struggled to find that momentum in their first four games.

After surrendering a goal advantage to take nothing from Norton and Stockton Ancients on the opening day, they succeeded in protecting their lead against Durham for their first win of the season.

In October, Leeds kept another clean sheet in a draw with league leaders Chester-le-Street Town, before losing a lead again late on at Bradford, where they settled for a point against a team struggling for form.

O’Hearne said of picking up five points from a possible 12: “Realistically, we wanted to be on nine points, really, so we’re a bit behind, if I’m honest.”

Following the FA’s suspension of non-elite football, O’Hearne has four weeks to mull over the team’s strategy for Leeds’ return in December, while trusting that the squad will keep themselves fit in the meantime.

He plans to review the team formation and consider redeploying players in alternative positions with a view to easing the wingers’ recovery and preventing attacking players from dropping too deep.

In addition to getting the most out of existing assets, O’Hearne hopes to bring in new blood over the enforced break to bolster the central midfield. Recruits would join eight players introduced at the start of this season who have racked up 1,913 league minutes between them, amounting to almost half of the pitch-time available across the four Division One North games played so far.

New signing Laura Bartup, one of three additions who have started every match, is currently the team’s top-scorer, but the Whites have netted just three of the 64 goals scored by the 12 clubs of Division One North this season.

O’Hearne said: “We have been creating a lot of chances, but missing a lot of chances. It’s about the final touches. If we could get that right, we’d have had a few more points.”

Leeds United Women will wait until December 13 to hunt for points at the Global Stadium in Tadcaster, where they’ll face fourth-placed side Stockport County.

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