Wonder strike sees battling Batley Ladies defeated by league leaders Leeds

Batley's Mel Neal helped break up Leeds attacks as the league leaders were kept at bay for long periods.
Batley's Mel Neal helped break up Leeds attacks as the league leaders were kept at bay for long periods.

Batley Ladies produced a battling display but were undone by a stunning goal as they lost 1-0 to Yorkshire Hockey Association Division Four North leaders Leeds Fourths.

It was a miserable rainy morning the clash and from the start it was clear that Leeds would be tough opponents.

They were immediately on the attack, pushing Batley into defence and the hosts had to rely on fast counter attacks to make a mark on the game.

Sophie Pearce was leading Batley’s strong defence as centre back and worked well with Mel Neal in midfield to break down attacks through the centre of the pitch.

Leeds were making short sharp passing movements taking the ball around Batley players and finding space.

Batley found it tough as they were forced to man mark and follow players around the field.

Pearce was moving the ball around from the back through midfield to try and get the ball into space for the forwards but they were closed quickly down.

Gail Culshaw, up front, was coming deep to find the ball and take it up field.

It remained scoreless at half- time and Batley were pleased to have held a difficult opponent.

Batley attacked at the start of the second half, launching one of their few surges in to the opposition circle and were looking dangerous until Leeds mounted a quick counter attack which required the midfield to get back and defend.

With 15 minutes to go Batley were camped in their own half but the great defensive work of Emily Perkins, Katie Amis-Hughes and Krystal Hemmingway helped Pearce break down the attacks.

Eventually Leeds got the breakthrough with an amazing reverse stick shot that found the bottom corner of the net to leave Helen Langwick and the defence stunned.

Batley moved the ball out to the forwards but they were pushed back and the game ended 1-0 with the brilliant Leeds strike being the tool that finally broke the strong Batley defence.

Player of the match went unanimously to Sophie Pearce.

Batley will aim to return to winning ways on Saturday when they travel to Thirsk for their final match before Christmas.