The journey to Saturday had been a long one for the ladies’ 1st XI. Following two successive years of finishing 2nd in North Div 2, last year’s finish particular painful after running Ben Rhydding so close, the team finally had the chance to secure the championship and route to playoffs 2016. It would require a win for the girls and a result elsewhere to go in Adel’s favour.
This week the team were without full back Gibson who returned home for the weekend. For the first time in two years K.Blyth was also unable to take her place in the team, she did however make the smooth transition to manager for the day.
The hosts were Doncaster, themselves looking for league survival this year, the young team picking up some good points of late, and the game that followed would prove that this was not luck.
Leeds Adel started the game brightly and quickly took control, moving the ball comfortably between players trying to draw Doncaster forward to create some space. Doncaster however clearly had a game plan, moving as a unit and in turn proving hard to breakdown. Byers, Jeavons, Love, Henry and Straughan all taking their turn to sneak forward and join up with the attack. A couple of early short corners were well defended and the young Doncaster keeper making some very talented saves.
The forward line of Smith, C.Goacher, Bickley and Wood were starting to get more creative, the deadlock finally broken after about 15 minutes, Wood with a mid air reverse stick pick at the back post, claiming her 23rd goal in 17 appearances so far this season. One quickly became two, this time Bickley claiming her 6th of the season, with a ghosting back post run which paid off.
Further heroics from the goalkeeper prevented anymore finding the net before half time. 2-0 at the break.
The second half was more about the midfield. The middle pack of A.Blyth, Hesselwood and H.Goacher moved the ball much quicker and the spaces started to open. The Doncaster team defended resolutely, however some ‘fruity’ tackles only added further determination to Adel to press forward. 3-0 registered as A.Blyth converted a short corner for 8th of the season, Hesselwood adding the 4th with a calm finish and 5th an unstoppable smash from the full 16 yards, taking her tally to 21 for the season from midfield.
Adel were now in full flow, Smith unlucky not to score following some flowing hockey, Jones also so close to registering her score, with what would have been the move of game, endless running at 60 minutes testament to the hard work of the team and fitness coach Jenny Wright. Smith would get her goal, placing past the keeper to register her 8th of the season.
There was just enough time for McCall to register her first touch of the game, leaping from her line to collect a clearance which had gone to the corner flag, top work all round! 6-0. Many thanks to the two umpires provided by Doncaster who were excellent.
MOM- Clare ‘Fireman Sam’ Hesselwood. Dominating and powerful throughout, two great goals
DOD- Sarah McCall- Drove herself and three other players to Halifax for a game at Doncaster, worrying!
The 17th league win in a row, 9th league clean sheet in a row, 8 out of 8 league clean sheets away from home this season. Only 16 players used all season. These stats cannot be matched. With the result needed elsewhere working in the team’s favour, the league was secured with five fixtures to spare.
Whilst we talk about this team only having 16 players, there are far more many members of this team, in the immediate background there are the hockey coaches, Paul Lewis, Ben Hendley and Sam Ransley and the fitness coaches from Primal Gym, Jenny Wright and Phill Wright. We have to thank our ever growing support who travel to home and away fixtures, with a special mention to families Blyth, Goacher and Jeavons who make the journey more often than not. This team is part of a growing club and off the pitch are supported by a committee of volunteers, whether it be Rachel Barson, organising and confirming fixtures, Laura Summers communicating with the league, Bridget Petty making sure we are legal, Pam Hardaker cultivating the next batch of players, Mark Powley generally making sure everyone is happy and has a changing room! And Gabby Nusenbaum making sure we celebrate in style! Of course, what is a team without a canine mascot? Baxter keeps the team in order, although they did OK without him on Saturday.