Leeds Hockey Club Ladies 1sts look safe despite being frozen out in North East

Leeds Hockey Club ladies 4ths celebrate after achieving promotion.Leeds Hockey Club ladies 4ths celebrate after achieving promotion.
Leeds Hockey Club ladies 4ths celebrate after achieving promotion.
With both their first teams playing a ‘Super Saturday’, Leeds Hockey Club had most of their attention focused on the North East.

The ladies were riding high from their victory the previous week and raring to take on a University of Durham team after holding them to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season.

On this occasion, however, Durham were never looking like settling for a draw. Straight from the off, the home side pushed forward and put the Leeds goal under pressure, taking only seven minutes to take the lead through Lottie Gill.

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Sixteen minutes gone and Durham had doubled their lead via Charlotte Childs after some slick passing had broken open the visitors’ defence.

Leeds rallied and began to play themselves back into the match, but just couldn’t find a way past Tegner in the University goal.

With just under an hour played, Durham put the game to bed, ending all hopes of Leeds gaining anything from the trip north, after Gill converted a short corner for her second – and the home side’s third.

Leeds look safe in their first season in the National Conference, however, needing just two more points from their final four games.

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Once the ladies’ game was over, the men took to the field hoping to exact revenge for their counterparts’ result. Durham Men have pushed league leaders Bowden all the way so far this season but Leeds were out to dent their title chances with a win.

This wasn’t looking likely at half-time though, as Leeds found themselves two goals down after defending at short corners once again seemed to be their downfall.

Max van Laak and Ben Butler-Felton took their chances, scoring one a piece to give Durham a commanding lead. In games past, this would have signalled the start of the end for Leeds but, after a recent run of bad results, they were not willing to let this be the case.

Just four minutes into the second half, Tom Roberts popped up to bring Leeds within one, latching on to a great pass that split the home defence. The game ended in the best way possible for the Leeds Men, as the last 15 minutes saw their determination pay off with Harry Lakfer and Carlos Hollyman increasing their season’s goal tallies and giving the side from Yorkshire a 3-2 win. Although out of the running for the top spot, Leeds showed they still plan on having their say on the final standings.

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Not all the club was looking north on Saturday, as Leeds Ladies 4ths had a home game against Cleckheaton to play.

A win would seal promotion for the Leeds side – a deserved reward for a team who have sat on the top of their league almost all season. The game started in the worst possible way for Leeds as Cleckheaton found themselves leading within the first two minutes. The straightforward and direct style of the visitors seemed to be confusing Leeds, as they struggled to contain the travelling team. Despite this, Leeds weren’t going to let their dreams go and they began to pass the ball around, creating space for themselves in midfield. As they piled on the pressure, near misses became a regular occurrence as the team in blue were searching for that final touch.

It came soon enough, as a short corner was struck from the top and Sabine Rodwell manoeuvred herself into the perfect position to get a deflection at the post and sneak the ball past the goalkeeper. Some strong running and perfect passing followed as the home side looked for that breakthrough and it came from Helen Saunders. Positioning herself in space within the visitor’s ‘D’, Saunders showed some great awareness to get her stick onto a ball that was hit from outside the 23-yard line as the defence were caught off guard.

This slight touch was enough to send the ball past the keeper and into the net, giving Leeds that all-important second goal. The game finished 3-1 after the ball bounced around the area before Sabine got the final touch and slipped her shot past the diving keeper – scoring her second of the match.

With promotion secure, the ladies now have three games to net that title with a visit to second-placed Harrogate, next week, the first of those games.

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