We’re just excited to get back on the pitch admits Leeds United Women’s Alice Hughes
Leeds United Women face Stockport County tomorrow in their first game in six weeks.
Their opponents sit just one point ahead in the Division One North table, and so the Whites could leapfrog Stockport with a win.
Both sides will be looking to find their feet again after an enforced break.
The four-week national lockdown brought grassroots football to a halt, causing matches and training to be cancelled for the duration of November.
As teams all over the country faced the challenge of sustaining momentum while separated, Leeds United Women have been relying on weekly fitness tasks and a club-wide Strava group to give them a fighting chance of returning from the hiatus in strong form.
Leeds United midfielder Alice Hughes said: “It’s a shame, really, not having your weekly routine. It’s good that we’ve been keeping up with our fitness and bits like that, but I don’t think that’s a substitute for playing games and training.”
The 24-year old, who is originally from Buckinghamshire, is enjoying her first season with Leeds United and is one of only two players to have started every game so far. She said: “It’s been good.
“The results haven’t always reflected that, but I think we’re still settling into it – the pandemic hasn’t been the most conducive element.”
The Whites’ most recent fixture, which took place at the beginning of November, is one they won’t mind forgetting after they crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of free-scoring Yorkshire rivals Barnsley.
But Leeds United Women are only looking forward, and are ready to return to league action.
Hughes said: “We’re prepared. We’re going to have to be on top of our game but we’ve taken on quite a few lessons from playing them the first time.”
Her side have already proved their worth against Stockport.
With one of their most complete performances of the season, the Whites knocked Stockport out of the FA Cup in October with a 2-0 win, thanks to a pair of stunning goals from Holly Findlay and Olivia Smart.
Hughes said: “It was a tough game, but we came out with a win. On the pitch, it was one of those ones where you felt like you had earned it.
“They’re a physical side. Very physical. I think we can probably expect the same again on Sunday.”
Tomorrow Stockport will be battling for their first win against Leeds United in what is only their second campaign in the FA Women’s National League.
Since gaining promotion from the fifth tier in 2019, they have played the Whites twice, and lost twice.
A win for the visitors could take them up to third place, their highest league position of the season so far.
Hughes said: “As a squad we look quite sharp, which is really good. All the girls are excited to be getting back to matches, back to seeing each other, back into the whole football bubble, I think. Everyone is looking forward to Sunday.”
The game will take place at Stockport Sports Village tomorrow, kick-off 2pm, and spectators will be allowed to watch the match.
Entry is £3 for adults, £1 for concessions and free for under 16s.
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