Ladies First Team vs. Bradford City (5 : 0)
FA WNL Northern Division
A flurry of goals late in the first half put Sheffield in a commanding position, and two more after the break ensured the visitors registered a hugely important win away at Bradford City.
Only one change was made from the side that were unfortunate to lose to Nottingham Forest in the week - Jen Pearson replacing the Rome-bound Ellie Hawcroft, the young midfielder away on England Colleges duty.
Sheffield started brightly at the Mitton Group Stadium, where a number of good crosses found willing runners into the Bradford box - their efforts troubling the car park attendants more than City goalkeeper Aimee Routledge however.
In a rare foray forward, it took a confident Liz Hobson stop to deny Bradford the lead after Rhianna Wright found herself through the back line and 1v1 with the young keeper.
It was then Sheffield’s chance to exert their dominance. Brilliant wide play from Molly Johnson found Nicole Kemp whose effort was turned away by Routledge, before again the home-stopper palmed away a fantastic strike from Lord-Mears.
Pearson, Lord-Mears (again) and Lisa Giampalma were all denied by Routledge and her Bradford bus, before the deadlock was finally broken with the first half coming to an end.
A corner swung in by Megan Tinsley, and after a good-old-fashioned goalmouth scramble with Bradford blocking three previous Sheffield shots, the ball was eventually prodded home by Holly Housley to give the visitors what they deserved.
It was then from the restart that the game really kicked off. Bradford's backpass was sloppy and Lord-Mears pressed, winning the ball back and finding Giampalma whose inside pass was picked up by Milly Wortley who dropped a shoulder and curled an effort wonderfully over Routledge.
From the kick off again, Lord-Mears won possession back, was in but her shot was denied by another excellent stop by Bradford's top performer.
There was still time in the half for more damage to be done. Excellent play by Kemp switched the play out to the left, and as Housley's cross was half-cleared, a well-timed Pearson run met the falling ball, and on the volley she steered it into the bottom corner for her first goal for the Club.
The second half started in a similar vein. Sheffield, hungry to get their first league win since October, were on the front foot again. This time the Johnson’s combined, with Molly being brought down on the edge of the area. Tinsley stepped up, but a combination of paw and bar denied the energetic winger.
Tinsley then turned provider, moments after Routledge had again denied a fantastic Lord-Mears effort, - as she cushioned a ball from the left down into the path of Giampalma who struck her seventh goal of the season.
Giampalma was involved in the play leading into the next goal. A clever one-two around the Bradford defence played in M. Johnson, whose first touch in the box drew the foul and won a penalty. Housley stepped up and dispatched it excellently into the top corner.
Sheffield might have added more to their tally with Lord-Mears and E. Johnson having good efforts, but, for once, the visitors were not returning home dwelling on what might have been.
Assistant Manager, Chris Hames, gave his thoughts after the game:
“It was a good performance today. We started with an intensity and purpose that we then carried through in all aspects of our play, so to get a good few goals, create some very nice patterns of play, and keep a clean sheet, all make it a good day's work."
"Our job now is to build on this - we have to make sure this is not an isolated result, and try to use the confidence this has given us to pick up more points in the coming weeks."
"We're now very much at the business end of the season, and we have another big week ahead in preparation for a tough trip to Stoke City.”
Photos courtesy of Paula Johnson.