Ladies Development Team vs. Everton (1 : 2)
FA WSL Development Northern Division
Sheffield FC Ladies development team travelled west for their first fixture of the new FA WSL Development season.
A new look team with seven new signings, all under the age of 17, and a new manager in Kyle O'Reilly taking charge of his first FA Women's Super League development match, Everton represented a tough opening test for Sheffield, with the Blues having run out 4-0 victors in last season's fixture, but with a new season comes a fresh optimism and excitement.
However, reality struck early when an aggressive, high-pressing Everton profited from their hard work after 8 minutes, with Chloe Fisher finishing from close range.
Sheffield were not to be deterred, playing through a busy Everton unit, with often that final piece of the jigsaw eluding them.
Both Shannon Durkin and Georgia Willson had half chances to level proceedings, but it was capain Ella Hartley who brought about parity, breaching the Everton back line before gliding around the ‘keeper and slotting home under pressure.
The sides went into the break level at 1-1 and the game finely poised, but it was Sheffield that started the second half the brightest with Molly Havard and Megan Tinsley both causing problems on the left flank, and Kenedy Owen stretching play from central midfield.
The introduction of debutants Millee Clarke, Alex Beavers and Ellie Hawcroft increased the pressure on the resilient Everton back line, but it was the hosts who eventually found the winning goal when Shannon Dukes’ speculative shot rom 35 yards found its way in off the Sheffield keeper Lauren Joyce's outstretched hand.
A tough result to take for a young squad who worked hard for the duration of the match, but a harsh lesson the group will learn from moving forwards.
Captain Ella Hartley had this to say after the defeat: “It was a hard result to take. However, there were a lot of positives to take from our first competitive performance of the season. We now look to build on this and go into the Birmingham City match next week with another strong performance, and hopefully get the three points to get our season really underway.”
Next up for the development squad is a home fixture against last season's FA WSL Development Northern Division runners up, Birmingham City.
Sheffield: Joyce, Goodwin (Beevers 75), Likara, Ibbotson, Tinsley, Owen, Russell, Hartley, Durkin, Willson (Clarke 65), Havard (Hawcroft 75)