Leeds United Women prepare for tough FA Cup test against Championship side Durham

Leeds United Women have the chance to cause a major cup upset as they host Championship side Durham in the third round of the FA Cup at Tadcaster Albion on Sunday.

By Flora Snelson
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 6:06 pm

Dan O’Hearne’s side have scored ten goals and conceded just once on their journey to the third round.

With consecutive 4-0 victories, Leeds breezed past fifth-tier sides Redcar Town and Hartlepool United to set up a tie with Division One North rivals Norton and Stockton Ancients last weekend.

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Whites attacker Aaliyah Nolan returned from injury to put her side ahead inside five minutes before Shannon Reid levelled the score for Norton ahead of half-time.

A dominant second-half display by Leeds was rewarded as summer signing Kathryn Smith bagged a last-minute winner to send the visitors through with a 2-1 win.

Meanwhile, Sunday’s clash is Durham’s first taste of FA Cup action this season, with Championship teams entering the hat at the third round each year.

Winning all but one of their opening seven league matches, Durham stormed to the top of the Championship table and held the top spot for six weeks before defeat to second-place Liverpool allowed the Reds to leapfrog the North-Eastern side in November.

Leeds United's Kathryn Smith. Pic: LUFC.

The six-pointer loss began a run of defeats from which the Wildcats are yet to recover. Durham have dropped to fourth in the Championship table and are winless in six games across all competitions.

On Sunday, Durham will travel to the Whites’ home ground at Tadcaster Albion, where Leeds are yet to lose a game this season.

At stake is £1,250 in prize money and a place in the fourth round, where the twelve Women’s Super League clubs enter the competition for the first time.

For Leeds, though, the match offers an opportunity to test themselves against a semi-professional side two tiers above them.

Leeds United Women celebrate Kathryn Smith's last-minute winner against Norton and Stockton Ancients in the FA Cup second round. Pic: LUFC.

With the Whites' sights set on their long-term goal of reaching the WSL, facing Championship opposition will give O'Hearne's side a sense of where they need to go.

Whites midfielder Sarah Danby, who joined the club from Huddersfield Town this summer, is looking forward to the opportunity.

"We want to challenge ourselves against that kind of team, it puts it into perspective for us, showing us how far we need to progress," Danby told the Leeds United website.

"I know a number of the girls at Durham. I am from the North East, I know how much of a fantastically well-run club they are.

Leeds United Women's Sarah Danby. Pic: LUFC.

"They are doing really well this season."

Leeds United will kick off against Durham at 1pm on Sunday December 12 at the Global Stadium, Tadcaster. Tickets cost £4, while Under-16s go free.

The match will be available by LUTV to stream for free on YouTube.

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