vs. Manchester City (2 : 1)
FA WSL Development Northern Division
After a tough couple of weeks, this week’s encounter would be no easier: table topping Manchester City were the visitors, boasting a host of youth internationals, an unbeaten start to the season, and conceding just two goals in their previous ten outings.
Sheffield were bolstered by youngsters Hannah Cain and Katie Anderson, and a fleeting appearance from Club Captain, Ellie Gilliat, who picked up her first minutes since picking up a serious injury back in December,
With such quality on both sides the match started with high intensity and quick tempo, with both teams enjoying spells of possession without really testing either keeper,
Patience was the key, with both defences standing strong despite the forwards probing and trying to ask questions of their opposition. Sheffield's Beth Ibbotson and Megan Tinsley held their own in the wide areas, with Niamh Cashin and Ruth Likara kept busy by Man City's England starlets Ella Toone and Jess Park.
It was the Sheffield defence that buckled first, when a lapse in concentration allowed City to breach the back line before Ella Toone dispatched to put the visitors 1-0 up. City also went close when a scuffed clearance at a corner found itself free at the back of the box, before cannoning the cross bar,
After the break, the game resumed in a similar fashion, although both teams looked to engage higher up the pitch and spoil any possession on the ball. This resulted in a scrappier affair to being with with Kenedy Owen, Ella Hartley and the Sheffield forwards not letting Man City settle.
Before long, Sheffield were level after a tireless Beth Donoghue hustled her way onto a throughball before rounding the keeper and coolly dispatching into the back of the net. The goal put the wind in the hosts sails who looked to capitalise on their momentum before the final whistle, bringing sustained pressure and a flurry of attacks.
Sheffield soon got their rewards when Hannah Cain was released into the box, and fired home inside the post in what proved to be the winner. City looked to respond and level the tie, but it was Sheffield who almost extended their lead as another Cain effort whistled wide of the post.
"I’m really pleased with the effort and response from the players this week," admitted manager Kyle O'Reilly after the match. "We’ve had a couple of tough outings recently, and today could have been another one if we didn’t apply ourselves correctly."
"City are top of the league for a reason, and they showed their quality throughout the match. We've a number of players who we’re pushing towards the first team, and to see them play with patience, discipline, and be able to adapt over the course of 90 minutes is particularly pleasing."
"It was a great advertisement for women’s football generally due to the high intensity, and our younger players can learn a lot from that level of football, and what it takes to play against the stronger teams. A good day for the Club as we go into an equally tough fixture against last season’s Champions, Liverpool, next week-end."