Ladies First Team vs. Bradford City (2 : 0)
FA WNL Northern Division
Early goals in both halves of the match ensured Club picked up their first three points of the new FA Women’s National League season with a 2-0 victory over Bradford City.
Both teams started the day with 0% records from their opening fixtures in league and cup, and both were determined to get their season up and running in this Yorkshire derby.
The opening stages were typically energetic with both sides looking to press and cause issues, but with little real calmness and quality on the ball to open each other up.
That was until the 12th minute when a nice Sheffield move down the right hand side created enough space for former Bradford player Ellie White to turn her marker and rifle and effort at goal. Bradford's keeper, Aimee Routledge, came to make the save but the shot eluded her and crept in at the near post.
Sheffield should have settled from this point and continue to press forward, but took their foot off the gas, with some players trying to do too much individually instead of continuing to play as a team.
By contrast, the goal seemed to inject more life into the visitors though, who began to launch the ball at the Sheffield back-line, with their main threat coming from the long ball. One free-kick effort was well saved by Sheffield keeper, Liz Hobson, before Jade Butcher needed to clear off the line from the rebound to keep the hosts ahead.
After this flurry, Sheffield began to assert some dominance again, moving the ball better through the midfield and creating a few openings. Just before the break, an excellent ball by Holly Housley found the feet of Lisa Giampalma in the box, who controlled the ball on a six pence before laying it off to Ellie Hawcroft who rifled a shot to the near post which was blocked just wide of the target.
Sheffield came out of the blocks quickly for the second half, with White getting an early shot away from the left-hand side after some impressive combination play, Routledge this time reacting well and pushing the shot aside.
The Sheffield pressure continued, and a free-kick was won 25-yards from goal. Up stepped Megan Tinsley, after a deceptive run over the ball from White parted the wall and, through the gap created, Tinsley curled a superb measured effort into the top left hand corner for 2-0.
Again however, it was the visitors who responded best to the change in score line as Sheffield sat back once more, and Bradford began to press Sheffield. This unsettled the hosts, causing them to rush and give possession away too cheaply, and the game became a scrappy affair for the remainder of the second half with limited chances.
Millee Clarke and Molly Havard made their entrance to the game, and instantly started to unsettle the Bradford back line as they pushed for a goal. First Clarke, and then Havard, worked space well before firing efforts wide.
As Bradford pushed forward, space opened up behind their back line and Sheffield looked to exploit this with Giampalma, Havard and Clarke breaking forward to create good chances which might have seen Sheffield increase their lead. One move in particular ended with Routledge making a great save at her near post to deny Clarke.
Assistant manager, Chris Hames, had this to say after the game: “It’s a well-deserved three points, so I’m very happy. The result should have been a bit more comfortable in reality, as we should have controlled the game better than we did, but we scored at good times.”
“Overall, I’m very proud of the group: they’ve grafted in the lead up to today and throughout the game and, with some good bits of quality, we’ve got over the line.”
“We now need carry this into training and to Thursday’s game and try to kick our season on from here.”
Sheffield travel to Nottingham Forest this Thursday evening for their next league match, kick off 8pm at Carlton Town FC.
Match photos courtesy of Paula Johnson