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Women's Football News
Leeds United can look forward to the New Year with more confidence following their 2-1 victory away to Reading FC Women on Sunday.
That is the view of Leeds captain Gemma Bonner, who told Women's Soccer Scene that performances had been improving in recent weeks despite the team's results. "We have been coming together for the past few games," said Gemma. "On Sunday we played really well and this time we got the goals.
"We hadn't had that many chances during the first half but then two goals came in quick succession and that gave us the confidence we needed. Reading scored with ten minutes left and that meant a tense finish for us, but the girls did well to hang on and we even had chances ourselves to add a third goal.
"We knew that it would be difficult for Reading as they had won five games on the bounce but we hadn't been playing badly. We really needed to get points on the board before the break though and, although we are still in the bottom two, the win means we are now level on points with Watford and still have games in hand on the teams above us. We can take confidence from the result as well because Reading are a good side."
After a troubled summer in which the club suffered a mass exodus of players to the newly formed Super League and almost folded, Leeds have perhaps performed better than expected so far and Gemma admits that it has been hard work for everyone at the club. "We have a really young side now," she said. "Everyone came in at a late stage and even now, we are adding quality players to the squad. It's been really hard but we're getting more confident as a team now and just the goals have been lacking, no one has beaten us heavily and we've been losing by the odd goal.
"We have a good team spirit at the club though, with all the players that have come in, and it showed on Sunday how much the win meant to us."
Gemma, along with Nat Staneff, are the only players still at the club from last season's first team squad and the 19-year-old found the situation a little unusual at first. "Last season I was one of the youngest in the squad and now, I'm one of the oldest," she smiles. "But we've got a good balance and the youngsters are willing to learn and want to improve. Fortunately we have a great backroom staff and hopefully their efforts are paying off now.
"It has given a chance for some players to prove themselves, Leah Galton is already an England Under-17 international and one for the future, Jess Round has done well and Jade Pennock has stepped up from the reserves and done a good consistent job. All round, everyone has played their part though."
It has been a rollercoaster year for Leeds but Gemma is confident that the future will bring more stability. "We have a good new Chairman in Steve Russell who kept us going and we owe a lot to him," she said. "The future is looking a lot brighter and the club is in a stable condition after how it had been. Now we are looking for results on the pitch to show that Leeds are in good shape and getting strong again.
"It is vital that we stay up this year as we want to establish ourselves once again and that would go a long way towards achieving it."
Gemma was a prominent member of the England squad which reached the semi finals of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup two years ago and she has also been capped at Under-19 and Under-20 level, but this has provided a new challenge for the defender and she has shown great loyalty to the cause. "I've always played for Leeds and was quite happy to stay," she says. "I am really enjoying it this season and hopefully we can push it on from here.
"It's been a good experience for everyone at the club and a big learning curve for me. We have got to put the year behind us now, with a totally different team and back up, and it was good that we finished it with a win so we can take that into the new year."
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