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Leah Galton praised her Leeds United team mates as they defeated Charlton Athletic 3-0 to return to the top of the National Division.
The 17-year-old winger scored twice to help Leeds to victory but she admitted to Women's Soccer Scene afterwards: "I wasn't expecting to play because I had been away with England Under-19s and had missed training, but I was pleased to be in the starting eleven."
After Clare Sykes had given Leeds an early lead, Leah added a quick second with her first goal of the season. "I snuck onto a loose back pass and put it away," she recalled. "We scored twice in the first ten minutes and it went from there. We have started quickly in matches this season and not always got in front but this time we put our chances away."
It was Leah who sealed the win with the third goal late on. "Emma Lipman played a good through ball to me and I put it in the bottom corner. I was really pleased with that goal.
"Overall it was a good all round team performance. We knew Sunderland weren't playing and wanted to be top so we were really up for this game."
The title race is shaping up to be a battle between Leeds and Sunderland but Leah is refusing to rule out third placed Coventry City as contenders. "We need to be careful of Coventry," she warned, "but it is probably between us and Sunderland now. We still have to play each other and it is going to be a good game when we meet."
This week, Leeds travel to Aston Villa and Leah is expecting a tough match. "We beat Villa 5-0 earlier in the season and, although it sounds like a trouncing, we played particularly well," she said. "I think we caught them on a bad day. But it will not be an easy game at all, none of them are at this level."
After their well documented problems last year, Leeds have settled well this time around and have gone from relegation strugglers to title challengers in a short space of time, with largely the same squad. "Last season saw a lot of team building with players getting to know each other," says Leah. "We have got it right this season and we know how to win games now. We have a very close team and nothing has really changed.
"Our manager Chris Welburn has had a lot to do with our improvement and he has brought in four new players who have really fitted in well. The squad is bigger and there is good competition for places so we have to play well to stay in the team.
"I am really loving it at Leeds right now, the way we are playing is amazing and I feel I am now getting better with every game. Although I start on the left, I swap from flank to flank during games and it is a good tactic to have as I can use either foot."
During the week, Leah had been on England duty with the Under-19s as they won friendlies against France and Holland, playing in the centre of defence. "It's challenging playing there," she laughs. "I'm just pleased to play, wherever it is, although I wish it could be on the wing. I do think that playing at centre half will improve me as a player though - it will give me a different appreciation of the game and helps my game a lot technically.
"We knew France would be tough but we were confident we could win the game. We were really good in the first half and played really well but it was very foggy in the second half and I must admit I didn't see either goal we scored!
"In contrast, against Holland, we didn't know a lot about them and in the first half, we didn't play so well. Mo [Marley] talked to us at half time and we improved from there, and deserved to win the game."
England's next task is the Second Qualifying Round for the UEFA Under-19 Championships when they will play Finland, Austria and Wales. "We will start as favourites but it will be tough," Leah admits. "I played against Finland for the Under-17s and lost, so it was a reminder that we need to work hard and not take things for granted.
"I played my first ever game for England against Wales and that should be some game when we play them. We know they'll be fired up for that one and we shall need to be at our best."
However for now it is back to a title challenge for Leeds. "We want it really badly," says Leah. "We need to keep going and it would be amazing to win it. We've got a pretty young team but we do have a good mix of youth and experience.
"The back four have played well, only conceding five goals in the league, and it is probably the strongest defence we have had although we work hard on our defending in training. All games in this league are close and it has been a good team season for us so far, but we want to round it off by winning something."
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