Leah Barnes on the ball

Defender Leah Barnes reflects on her first season with Peterborough United and how the Development Squad’s season has gone as it draws to a close.

The Posh Women Development Squad currently sit in third place in the East Midland’s Women’s Regional Football League Division One South with two games to spare. It’s been an up-and-down season for the development squad due to a new-look team and staff, sparse fixtures and player injuries, but claiming six wins and a draw from 12 games can be seen as a definitive positive. 

Leah Barnes was one of the faces drafted in by manager Shaun Harley at the beginning of the season and sat down with Lauren Shiels to discuss how the season has panned out.

“It’s been a real mixture of a season so far. It was challenging at the start of the season as we were getting to know one another in terms of how we all played, but I think we are gelling together nicely. We found it difficult at first getting used to having breaks between fixtures but we have got used to this and haven’t allowed our performances to drop as a result.”

The past month for the Development Squad has been particularly positive with consecutive 2-0 home wins recorded against Kettering Town Women and Leicester City Ladies, lifting them to fourth in the table.

“Since the turn of the year, and this last month in particular, we have stepped up as a team well. We’ve had a lot of players stepping up from the Emerging Talent Centre, which is really good to see a clear pathway being created. These players have brought a whole new depth to the squad which is better for the team as it means we are all fighting for places on the pitch. We’re taking things away things from games more and always continuing to learn on the pitch.”

In recent weeks, Barnes has also been handed the captaincy role due to an injury sustained by Hannah Murphy and has relished the opportunity of being one of the more experienced players on the pitch.

“For me captaincy is an armband. I’ve always been vocal on the pitch. As one of the more experienced players on the pitch, I want to support the younger players at the club to develop their game. Whether I have the armband on or not, I will still strive to portray a leadership role out on the pitch.”

Barnes has been an instrumental part of the Development Squad, claiming the joint most appearances with 13 and playing the most minutes throughout the season.

“I am surprised to hear that but obviously very happy! I’ve always been a committed player which demonstrates why I’m ever present on matchdays despite carrying a few niggles at times. I want to play football and enjoy my time on the pitch, and I have most definitely been doing that this season."

Written by Lauren Shiels.