Ladies First Team vs. Guiseley Vixens (1 : 1)
FA WNL Northern Division
The New Year began in positive fashion for Sheffield FC Ladies who returned from Guiseley AFC Vixens with a point after a keenly contested 1-1 draw which saw Ellie Casper's second half opener for the hosts cancelled out minutes later by Club's Lisa Giampalma.
After a torrid run of results to end 2018, Sheffield's new management team had used the Christmas break to start working hard with the players, and were looking for an early and positive reaction to the new influence.
And the visitors started brightly, with Megan Tinsley picking up the ball down the left and delivering a great ball to Lisa Giampalma at the back post who, at full tilt, couldn’t keep her volleyed effort down, and it flew narrowly over the bar.
Sheffield didn’t have to wait too long until their next opportunity, with the same two players combining, allowing the ever-tenacious Giampalma to steal a yard before firing a low left-footed drive that was smartly saved by Guiseley 'keeper Bethan Davies.
Moments later, Guiseley had their chance to influence the outcome of the half. Decent play through the middle opened up a good chance for Ellie Casper, but she was denied by an excellent Jess Heald recovery tackle, and then a strong Liz Hobson save, before Ellie Russell cleared the danger.
From this frantic opening, Sheffield began to assert themselves for the rest of the half. Chances fell to Molly Havard, Millee Clarke and Giampalma, before a sensational Heald strike was kept out of the top corner by the finger-tips of Davies.
Before an entertaining first half could draw to a close, the dangerous Clarke weaved her way through the defence before delivering to Havard whose shot was collected by Davies once more.
Although Sheffield were to fashion the first chance of the second half, the Vixens came out a much more determined team for the second half and, although they were limited in the main to long range chances, an initial effort from Beth Stanfield showed their intent.
Jodie Hunter should have put the hosts in front when Sophie Walton delivered the perfect corner, but the midfielder misread the flight and a free header went unpunished.
Moments later, Havard had the best chance of the game when her well-timed run opened up the space for the forward, who was left 1-on-1 with Davies, but shot too close to the keeper who made a smart stop low to her left.
The save ricocheted away, and Guiseley broke at pace, the determination of Casper carrying the forward into the box where some below-par Sheffield defending resulted in the ball breaking loose and Casper poked it into the back of the net.
Instantly , a double Sheffield change was made: Russell and Havard were changed for Ellie Hawcroft and debutant Jen Pearson, and minutes later, it was the latter who set up Sheffield’s equaliser when her reverse pass was perfectly weighted into the path of Giampalma whose shot from an angle slipped through the gloves of Davies and nestled into the bottom corner.
As Sheffield tired, Guiseley tried to make more of their greater possession, but Sheffield dug in really well to restrict the hosts to long range efforts which Hobson dealt with comforatbly.
Guiseley's Charlotte Gill might have made more of a header in the box which was directed over the bar, before Lauren Griffiths shot on the turn which drifted wide of the far post.
On the final whistle, both sides could perhaps be disappointed with their inability to make more of their chances, - Sheffield in the first half, Guiseley in the second - but the draw was arguably the fairest outcome.
No change in FA WNL Northern Premier table positions, but the point puts Sheffield on equal points with Nottingham Forest, with Club travelling to Middlesbrough next week-end.
Photos courtesy of Kay Shackleton.