Ladies Development Team vs. Durham (4 : 1)
FA WSL Development Northern Division
Sheffield FC Ladies Development overcome Durham Ladies Development 4-1 in the FA WSL Development Northern Division to make it just 1 loss in 8 games, writes Luke Phelps.
The scoring was opened by a wonderful goal from Sheffield’s Kenedy Owen before Ellie Hawcroft headed home a second. Georgia Willson added a third before half time with a deft finish before Durham clawed one back after the restart. Millee Clarke got the fourth with a curling effort from the edge of the box.
Sheffield kicked off on this frosty Sunday at SGP Westfield and dominated possession in the opening ten. Willson had a good chance to score early on when captain Ella Hartley squared the ball to her in the box, but Willson put her effort over the bar.
Looking dangerous on the attack, the home side almost paid for a lapse in concentration when defender Leigh Goodwin and keeper Lauren Joyce had a miscommunication, but the on-rushing Durham forward couldn’t pounce.
Fifteen minutes in and Sheffield's dominance looked to be fading until they found the opening goal through Owen (15). The deep lying midfielder picked up the ball on half way before beating three players, making her way into the box and sending the keeper the wrong way for the lead.
The goals came from midfield today, and it was Owen's midfield partner Hawcroft (23) who got Sheffield's second. An out-swinging corner from Hartley landed on the head of Hawcroft who stuck it in the bottom corner of the net.
It was all Sheffield in the first half, and Willson (38) got a deserved third for the home side. Full-back Megan Tinsley had an energetic performance down the left for Sheffield, and crossed for Willson to slot the third in the far corner.
As the rain began to pour the Durham defence started to leak. It was set-pieces that the visiting team were struggling with, Hawcroft again rising to meet the ball and head unlucky as her effort was cleared off the line.
Manager Kyle O'Reilly would’ve been proud of his girls as the head in for half time with a three goal lead.
The home side who continued to have the better possession with the restart. Most of the first half attacks for Sheffield came down the left but it was Goodwin on the right hand side looking most dangerous.
After defending for fifty minutes, Durham got a goal very much so against the run of play. Scoring from two in the first half Sheffield conceded from a corner (50) when a Durham player rose high and headed low past Lauren Joyce in the Sheffield goal.
That Durham goal had given them confidence in going forward, and added some extra tenacity to a game that was very one-sided in the first half. It also highlighted the talent of Sheffield’s two centre halves Beth Ibbotson and Ruth Likara who were both outstanding today, playing with experience beyond their age.
The game was being fought out in midfield, but the next best chance of the game fell to Sheffield's Shannon Durkin who, like Owen in the first half, weaved through the Durham defence and into a goal-scoring position, but her effort trickled just wide of the goal.
Sheffield continued to push for the fourth goal that would give them some breathing space, Clarke tested the Durham keeper from range before setting up Hartley who forced another good save.
Night time was drawing in over SGP Westfield, and both teams began to show signs of tiring with ten remaining. It was soon to be four for Sheffield when Clarke (80) cut inside from the left, and curled a beautiful shot into the top corner to see the game off for the home side.
Likara almost got a goal which would’ve capped a great performance, when she headed another precise Hartley corner towards goal, but the keeper was equal to it.
With minutes remaining Durham tried to push for a second goal but couldn’t find one as Sheffield take all the points with a strong performance, and comfortable win today.
Sheffield FC Ladies Development: Joyce, Ibbotson, Hawcroft, Likara, Hartley, Durkin (Russell 66), Willson, Tinsley (Wheeler 82), Clarke, Owen, Goodwin