By Matthew Kermode
Bradford City WFC fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to Leeds United on Thursday in a fixture that should have originally been played in September. The first game was abandoned before half time after City’s Chelsea Sandford and Leeds’ Molly Hovard sustained serious injuries in an accidental clash.
The rearranged fixture wasn’t confirmed as playable until as late as 10.30 on the day following a pitch inspection by Eccleshill United, who had been forced to postpone yet another of their own games due to the continuing poor weather the night before. A crowd of 63 braved the conditions to cheer City on, including the home side’s soon-to-be-named new manager who was watching on from the back of the stand, notebook in hand.
Referee Gavin Hock gave his thumbs up after a thorough walk around the pitch as the rain continued to fall throughout the evening, creating conditions more commonly seen in videos of 80s lower league winter games. The pitch cut up heavily, and by the end the teams were barely distinguishable from each other through the mud.
City started brightly, with Harriet Jakeman’s first minute snap shot being easily gathered by Leeds keeper Georgia Wattam. The majority of the first 15 minutes was played out in the middle third, with both sides enjoying time on the ball but with very little end product. That changed in the 16th minute when Millie Kenyon picked up the ball on the edge of the City box, and Aimee Routledge could only get fingertips to the ball as it found the corner of her goal.
Former Leeds keeper Routledge was called into action again before half time as she saved brilliantly from Rebecca Hunt, then watched as Emily Cassidy blazed the rebound over from close range. The first half ended with some tempers flaring. First City winger Monika Stube was clattered by two Leeds players at the same time, before Routledge was flattened as she gathered a back pass from Beth Shepherd.
Leeds started the second half brightly, Holly Findlay’s cross found Kenyon, who looped a header over the stranded Routledge from around 10 yards out.
Most of the second half followed the same pattern as the first, with the ball spending more time in the air than on the ground as the pitch turned increasingly boggy. City had a good chance with 20 minutes remaining, after some excellent build up play, Jemma White’s through ball found substitute Ellie Prothero unmarked, but she saw her shot saved by Wattam.
With 10 minutes remaining Jakeman went into the referee’s book for an apparent foul on the edge of the City area, and then with just two minutes remaining, the visitors were awarded a penalty as the referee decided Routledge had fouled Abby Parkin. It was Hunt who stepped up to fire the spot kick home to secure the points for Leeds.
Next up this Sunday for City is a home game at Woodhouse Grove School in the West Riding County Cup against Ripon City Ladies, while the Reserves travel to Calderdale College to face Brighouse Town in a repeat of last month’s 2-2 FAWNL Plate draw.
City line-up: Routledge, Roberts ©, Shepherd, Parrish, Sales, Woodcock, Stuart, Norde, Stube (Prothero, 61), White, Jakeman
Subs unused: Dyson, Maxted, Sumaili
Leeds line-up: Wattam, Hamill, Hannon ©, Hunter, Smart (Parkin, 74), Cassidy, K. Hunt (Shuttleworth, 66), R. Hunt, Brown (Ash, 61), Kenyon, Findlay
Referee: Gavin Hock