Ladies Development Team Back to Winning Ways
After a run of three straight league defeats, Sheffield FC Ladies Development team bounced back strongly to register a first ever league win against last season's Northern Division champions, Sunderland AFC Ladies Development.
On the hottest day of the year so far, conditions were far from ideal for the much-depleted Sheffield side and, with the club's first team's playing in a friendly less than a mile away, there were few options
Sunderland were very happy to have the ball, and Sheffield were happy to give it to them as it was on the counter-attack that the first few chances fell to Sheffield's young squad. And the hosts took an important early lead when, on 12 minutes, Cara Fields stepped up and applied the finish to a move that was built up from the midfield.
Sheffield doubled their lead just before the half hour mark with Shannon Durkin using her pace and determination to steal into the Sunderland box, get beyond the back line, and fire home for 2-0.
The game continued to play out in much the same vein: Sunderland dominating possession, but Sheffield using it more wisely, with some excellent link up play that undid the aggressive pressing of the visitors.
It was from some of that link up play that Sheffield fashioned a third goal. The ball was worked well through the midfield before picking out Leigha Goodwin on the right wing, and her deep cross evaded everyone but Durkin who ghosted in at the back post to register her second goal of the game.
The second half saw a different tack taken by the Weirside club who again dominated throughout. Lauren Joyce, Sheffield's goalkeeper was required to step up her involvement and she was equal to it, making a number of crucial and impressive saves.
Again on the counter-attack, Sheffield threatened. Ella Hartley was played in on the the far side, she struck and beat the keeper - but not the post. But the hosts only had to wait a minute or so longer for their fourth of the afternoon, as once again Durkin found herself in space following a block on the line, this time, dispatching a neat half-volley into the back of the net.
Sunderland didn't hold back though, and again Joyce was called upon, and responded with a string of fine saves.
On 70 minutes, Sheffield's hopes of a clean sheet was over when Sunderland drilled a cross in from the right and, after hitting the bar and then Joyce (twice), the ball was eventually forced over the line for 4-1.
With 15 minutes to go, the visitors had another great opportunity for a comeback. A rare mix up at the back by Sheffield allowed the Sunderland striker in, but her drive goalwards was matched by Sheldon Ashton who put in a great tackle, but was adjudged to have taken the player not the ball.
The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and initially showed a red card to Ashton which was changed to a yellow after a lengthy discussion with the assistant linesman. The penalty itself not as interesting as the incident that led to it, ending up clipping the cross bar and going behind for a goal kick.
The rest of game played out with the heat winning the last ten minutes as both team's energy and quality was eventually sapped. Still, an excellent response from Sheffield following a poor run of results, and an important three points.
Sheffield: Joyce, Heald, Ashton, Kemp (Havard 65), Goodwin, Fields, Daniels, Hogg, Hartley, Durkin, Tinsley
Sunderland: Stonehouse, Mullen, Ashby, Griffiths, Warren, guy, Gibsob, Barker, Galloway, Hutchinson, Preston