First Team vs. Loughborough Dynamo (0 : 1)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
A very hard-working Sheffield FC came away from The Nanpantan Sports Ground empty-handed, writes Bill Towning, a 75 minute strike from Loughborough Dynamo's Sean Phillips the difference between the two sides in this fast-paced and entertaining encounter.
Sheffield named a starting XI unchanged from the side that scrapped for a home win against Leek Town at the week-end, and were first to create an opening, Alec Denton firing just off target having been put through on goal by Connor Hall. Loughborough played some attractive football at a good pace without troubling Club's back four too much, but Louis Keenan fired just wide from a free-kick.
Sheffield played well on the counter-attack after breaking up the hosts' neat passing play Danny Patterson put Matt Roney in with a superb diagonal ball, but he was forced wide and his attempted pass across goal was cut out. Loughborough's next attempt came again from a set piece; a mix-up almost letting in Jamie Clarke.
For Club, Ben Partridge looked threatening getting forward, after shooting wide he got onto a run in the penalty area, looked to have been clipped from behind but kept his feet and the ball ran away from him.
Sheffield's defence was generally solid throughout the first half, although an uncharacteristic slip by Hafeez Hamzat almost let Lavell White in on goal, however, there were no other Dynamo forwards helping out and Club got away with it. Hall headed just wide from Hamzat's cross, and Clarke blazed a shot high and wide of Steve Hernandez' goal having been set up by Waumsley.
Hall then set up Denton for Sheffield's best chance of the half, a super run forward set up the Number 10 who forced a fine save from Dynamo 'keeper Liam Sharpe. From the resulting corner Lee Cooksey headed wide, and the first half ended as it began; all square at 0-0.
The second half began at the same fast pace as the first had finished; Sheffield first to show with Partridge intercepting a pass in midfield and attempting to lob the ball over the advanced Sharpe, his effort was well off target. As in the first period, Sheffield counter-attacked well, Jason Foster putting a good ball into the mix but well-claimed by Sharpe.
Ross Goodwin put Partridge through with a good ball but the Sheffield 11's shot was mistimed and hadn't enough pace to trouble the 'keeper. Sheffield looked threatening now and were keeping the hosts on the back foot with some determined forward play; a super ball from Hamzat found Roney in acres of space on the right and he hit a good shot which was well saved.
Jack Walters made his debut on 61 minutes, replacing Partridge and Sam Finlaw replaced Roney with 67 minutes gone, but after more good play from Club, the hosts took the lead.
An awful sliced clearance by the home defence was just out of the reach of Hall, the ball broke kindly to Phillips who ran through midfield and scored with a super strike in the top left corner. Sheffield countered straight away; Finlaw just failing to get a clean final touch and Sharpe gratefully gathering up the ball.
With 10 minutes plus added time remaining, Ollie Ryan replaced Goodwin as Sheffield went all out to get the point their collective efforts deserved. Sheffield created a host of chances in the last 10 minutes to have secured at least a point, Denton bringing another fine save from Sharpe but some poor finishing and brave defending preserved Dynamo's lead and it was they who carried the 3 points at the final whistle. It was impossible to fault the Sheffield players determination and commitment, on another night they could have won the game easily.
Loughborough Dynamo: Sharpe, Day, Saunders, Gray, Brain, Phillips, Keenan, Oldham, Clarke, Waumsley, White. Subs: Wallace, Bahrey, Philip, Gardner, Brown-Wingfield.
Sheffield FC: Hernandez, Foster, Hamzat, Goodwin, Cooksey, Hadfield, Roney, Patterson, Hall, Denton, Partridge. Subs: Finlaw, Butt, Lindley, Walters, Ryan.
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