29 Sep Match Report: Bradford City 1-0 Leeds United
You just can’t seem to beat an evening game under the lights but what makes last night’s game so special was the fact that it was a Yorkshire derby between Bradford City and Leeds United held at Valley Parade, the home of the Bradford City men’s team.
Bradford City Women usually play their games at Eccleshill United so the change of venue was a great chance for the team to showcase themselves in front of a much wider audience than they are used to with promotion from the male counterparts social media really working in attracting a bigger audience, one that the game was definitely worthy of the crowd.
It was nice to be at Valley Parade watching the women playing and the build-up still being the same as any of the men’s games I have been to there already this season which just made the teams feel that bit more united. The atmosphere for the 90 minutes was also fantastic with fans singing.
It was Leeds who got us underway and got a few of the first of the game. They had the first shot which went ended up being fired over the bar. They were also awarded the first free-kick of the game which fortunately for Bradford didn’t amount to anything. Bradford got themselves settled down after getting the ball back from the free-kick and had a great chance of their own with a great ball through the Leeds defence which unfortunately couldn’t quite reach Sophie Hawkins up front.
In the first 10 minutes, it was clear that City were not going to be intimidated by the crowd and instead they played up to the occasion and didn’t look nervous at all, in fact, it is possible one of the best opening periods I have seen from them in a while as they were defending very well alongside creating some really good chances which they just couldn’t quite get on the end of to convert. The movement from City on and off the ball was fantastic too with players making some great passes and runs into space to keep hold of the ball and get into some dangerous attacking positions.
Leeds certainly didn’t sit back during the game though and in the first half, we saw them have some great strikes of their own which fortunately for City went wide or over the bar. Leeds definitely kept City ‘keeper Richards on her toes throughout the first half where she made some great saves, a great corner was swung in from Leeds and she managed to clear the ball from danger and we saw the same not long after when she made a great save and we saw the follow up Leeds shot fired way over the bar.
The first and only goal came on the 37th minute with Hawkins stealing the ball higher up the field and making her way through the Leeds defence to calmly slot the ball home off the post. You could see just how much that goal meant to the team with them all celebrating together and their heads were definitely held high.
Going into half time with the lead was just what was needed for the morale of the team overall. It was really nice seeing City going into the break with a lead and for us fans to have seen such a great first half performance from the team. It is definitely the best I have seen from them in the first half for a long time and similarly, it is the best I have seen them against Leeds.
Bradford got us underway for the second half but just like in the first half Leeds were the first to have a chance which again ended up fired way above the crossbar. In fact, most of the second half was spent with Leeds looking for an equaliser but Bradford were giving it everything in defence and working on the counter-attack each time looking to increase their own lead, they definitely didn’t show any sign of just sitting back to defend their lead.
It was pretty even up to the 56th and that is when the derby day feeling really started to come into play with both sides making some fantastic challenges and showing how much they wanted to win the game, up until then it had been relatively calm but it was like Leeds had just seen that time was ticking away and like City saw just how much longer they had to hold the lead for.
City made the first sub of the game with Jakeman coming on to replace Lambert which just looked like a case of bringing on a fresh pair of legs to help them hold onto their lead and not long after City had yet another chance from Hawkins which instead made its way behind for a corner. The first booking of the game came just after the corner too with City’s Woodcock picking up a yellow for a late challenge to stop the Leeds break.
City made a second sub bringing Gill on to replace goalscorer Hawkins who looked like she picked up a knock. It didn’t take long for Gill to get into the game either as she almost immediately got her name on the score sheet with a brilliant strike which ended up in the Kop rather than the back of the net. City’s 3rd and final sub of the game saw Stube be brought off in place of Prothero, this definitely seemed to be a tactical change as her pace caused Leeds some issues late on in the game.
A free kick right on the edge of the area was awarded to City which is definitely dangerous territory when you have Norde and Roberts on the pitch however, Roberts just couldn’t get the ball to come down at the right time and it sailed just over the crossbar. It was by this stage you could see just how desperate Leeds were getting as they were making sure they collected the ball as soon as it left the pitch to try to keep the momentum going and to be honest it nearly worked as a fantastic strike from Bartup absolutely rattled the crossbar before eventually making its way out for a City goal kick.
City picked up their second yellow card of the match when Jakeman brought down a Leeds defender in her own half, which again, I think was just a bit of frustration boiling over with both players desperately fighting for the ball.
The final ten minutes were definitely all Leeds though as they piled on the pressure but City stepped up to deny them with an off the line header clearance and yet more great defending to keep the score in City’s favour. The last real chance of the game came from a Leeds free kick but once again ‘keeper Richards was there to save the day and keep the ball out of the back of the net.
The game ended 1-0 to Bradford and it sees them move up the table and deny Leeds the chance of reaching the top spot. City definitely saved their best performance for those 540 fans that made the trip to Valley Parade as it is one of the best 90 minutes I have seen from them and they could have easily grabbed a few more goals if the accuracy was just that little better. T
he Bradford defence had a fantastic 90 minutes too and they really put their bodies on the line especially for those last 10 minutes to hold onto the lead. City certainly looked a lot more threatening in front of the goal too which shows they are making improvements off the pitch week after week, in fact you can see them improving in a whole lot of areas which have been previously highlighted and I think the only one still to improve on is getting that second ball when it is up in the air.
As soon as that whistle blew you could tell just how much the win meant to the team, coaching staff and all those involved in making the game at Valley Parade possible. Let’s hope we get to see them back on the big stage in the near future as I think it is great for the fans and the club and goes to show just how well the takeover in the off season has worked and how the club are now on the right track to make some great progression.
If City played like this every week I think we could very easily see them make some great progression up that league table. I just hope that the fans who attended the game for the first time last night and just as impressed as us lot who already attend the matches at Eccleshill and want to come watch the team again as I think the atmosphere definitely played a big part in the teams performance. It would be great to see that it also inspired a lot of the young fans to get involved in the game or simply become fans too.
So player of the match time and me it definitely has to be City’s goalkeeper Hannah Richards, she commanded her box really well all game and kept City in the lead by making some fantastic saves, Richards confidence is improving a lot this season and week after week she is showing some great improvement especially in the commanding the area and distribution.