News Release, Sheffield United WFC
Sheffield, UK- Sheffield United Women fell to just their second league defeat of the season at home to Aston Villa, leaving Carla Ward’s side trailing their rivals by six points in the FA Women’s Championship.
A win would have put the Blades top of the pile for the first time, but a sole strike after a United error from Emma Follis in what was a close-fought encounter sealed a crucial three points for the visitors.
New signings Rhema Lord-Mears and Mollie Green were among the substitutes as the game started in a not so typical slow fashion, both United and Villa all too happy to try and ease their way into the game.
Sam Tierney saw a goalward header cleared inside 10 minutes as the Blades tried to get on the front foot, but Villa came closest minutes later when Emma Follis’s free-kick came back off the crossbar.
Both sides struggled to create meaningful chances with neither Becky Flaherty nor Sian Rogers having too much to do. Jade Pennock had half a chance shortly before the break but lost her footing when trying to control Maddy Cusack’s ball into the box.
Villa went closer still just before half-time when Shania Hayles turned an effort inches wide inside the box, and United came out quicker in the second half as Cusack saw an effort deflected behind for a corner.
Five minutes later, the league leaders struck the crucial blow. Leandra Little had the ball taken off her by Hayles, who promptly ran forward and slipped in Follis who fired beyond Flaherty, though there was a suspicion of offside as Follis got on the end of the pass.
Ward responded by first introducing Katie Wilkinson and then handing a debut to Green as her side looked for a response, and it was Wilkinson who went close with 15 minutes to go after some poor defending presented her with a chance, her effort blocked before the rebound was cleared away before Green could slot home.
Naomi Hartley headed Aimee Palmer’s free-kick over the bar before Palmer herself forced a save from Rogers as United threw everything at their opponents in the dying minutes, Tierney seeing a cross bounce back off the bar as the game entered stoppage time.
Despite their best efforts though, the clock ticked down and the equalizer never came, meaning Villa has now established a margin at the top of the Championship.
Blades: Flaherty, Barker, Tierney, Little, Hartley, Pennock, Cusack (Green 74), Paul (Dixon 84), Palmer, Sarri (Wilkinson 59), Fergusson.
Unused subs: Batty, Lord-Mears, Ford, Johnson.