In the latest of our series reviewing the season with Impetus’ sponsored players and partner clubs, Brighouse Town’s Leah Embley spoke to Ben Gilby about her superb first season at the Yorkshire club who flourished in their maiden Tier Three campaign in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier (16/6/22).
Above: Leah Embley (left) in action for Brighouse Town in their superb draw at eventual National League Northern Premier champions Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux. Photo supplied by: Leah Embley.
Leah came into Brighouse Town from Championship side Blackburn Rovers ahead of their first ever campaign in the third tier of the women’s game, and the season went about as well as it could have done both for her personally, and her team.
“I think we’ve had a great first season in tier three. We’ve taken points off a lot of the top teams in this league and I think that just shows how good a group we’ve got,” the star attacker enthused.
As well as an excellent league campaign, Brighouse Town lifted the County Cup with a dramatic victory over Leeds United in the Final. Brighouse were leading before Leeds levelled in the dying moments of the second half, which took the final to a penalty shoot out. Leah was of those who stood up to dispatch a penalty to win the trophy. She looks back on the game with real pride.
“I thought first half we dominated, we were comfortable on the ball and Leeds didn’t really trouble us. I thought we had a few chances where we could have killed the game off early doors. In the second half, we lost our way a little bit and it became a battle, we didn’t really keep hold of possession and Leeds threatened us.
“Luckily we won on penalties otherwise it would have been a very disappointing night. I really enjoyed playing in it, the crowd was amazing and when I walked out from the changing rooms to the pitch I couldn’t believe how many people had come down to support. It was a great occasion for women’s football and we topped it off by bringing the trophy home.”
As well as a successful campaign results-wise, Leah sees the season as one which was hugely positive personally on a more fundamental level.
“I think a big thing for me was getting my confidence back and enjoying my football. I’ve scored goals this season and put myself in a position where I knew the team could rely on me to put the ball in the back of the net. I think 26 goals in one season is a massive achievement and one I am proud of.
“From a team perspective, we’ve had some really good performances, everybody wants to work hard and put a shift in and I think you can tell that in some of our results against Wolves and Derby County. I was welcomed into the team from the start and I was made to feel part of it from the staff and players straight away which I think is massive.”
Leah touched on her goal scoring record, but among those 26 were a fair number of absolutely sensational strikes. That is something that the Brighouse star puts down to getting her confidence back since moving to the club for this season.
“Haha! Yes, I’ve scored a few good ones. I think I went through a spell when every goal I scored was a special one. I think it goes back to having the confidence to shoot from them kind of areas. Finishing is something I know is one of my strengths, even though I’m not an out-and-out number nine, I always felt like I could score in every single game. The confidence I had in myself this season was top class and I think some of my goals showed that. This is probably the best goal-scoring season that I’ve had.”
As always, there were challenging moments during the campaign, and Leah specifically found the number of midweek games her team had to play towards the end of the season was tough.
“They were a struggle not physically but mentally. When you get the win you feel like it’s worth it but they are hard games.”
With the club comfortably securing another season in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier, the Brighouse attacker sees more positive times ahead next season. “I think with another pre-season together gelling as a team, we can punishing opponents more when we get in the final third. It’ll be another great season next season.
“Before we finish, I want to make clear how much I’ve really appreciated all the support I’ve received from Impetus this season and it has really driven me to keep performing. A massive thank you for everything this season and hopefully you’ve enjoyed being part of the journey.”
We certainly have, and everyone connected with the site is really excited to see what comes next for both Leah Embley and Brighouse Town.