By Matthew Kermode
Bradford City WFC’s highly-anticipated local derby with Leeds United was abandoned after just 33 minutes following a horrific clash of heads between Bantams defender Chelsea Sandford and Leeds forward Molly Havard.
Both players received treatment on the field from physios and a surgeon who was in the crowd for nearly an hour before paramedics arrived. The players then left to A&E by ambulance leaving the referee with no option to call a halt to preceedings.
In front of a bumper crowd of 166, including mascots from Horsforth St Margaret’s and Thackley Typhoons, Leeds dominated possession in the early exchanges, hitting the woodwork after only eight minutes. City went close on 18 minutes as Louise Willoughby picked up the ball on the edge of the visitors’ box and rifled in a long range shot, only to see it be deflected behind for a corner.
Then on 25 minutes Leeds took the lead from the spot after a late challenge by Sandford. Bantams’ keeper Aimee Routledge guessed correctly but was unable to get a strong enough hand on Rebecca Hunt’s spot kick to keep it out.
Six minutes later the away side doubled their lead, a hopeful punt into the box looped over Routledge to give Shannon Durkin an easy tap in.
But the major incident of the night happened two minutes afterwards. A long ball down field saw Sandford and Havard challenge for the header. Sandford mistimed her jump and both players collided in the air. As the players landed it was clear to everyone that there was a serious problem as physios and coaches from both sides ran onto the field. Sandford was briefly unconscious, and the medical team treated her head injury for some time. Havard was treated for a dislocated jaw and remains in hospital on Thursday morning. Sandford was released at around 4am.
After a delay of over an hour the two players were taken to the changing rooms for further attention from the paramedics, and while the players tried to keep warm on the pitch referee Ashley Mallett spoke to both coaches and took the decision to abandon the game.
City line-up: Routledge, Roberts (C), Parrish, Sandford, Prothero, Hunt, Norde, Willoughby, Jakeman, J White, Sumaili
Subs: Shepherd, Dyson, Stube, Maxted, Clark