Ladies First Team vs. Middlesbrough (1 : 5)
FA WNL Northern Division
After a confidence building display away at Guiseley Vixens the week before, Sheffield would have hoped for far more from their trip to Teesside, but a series of naive mistakes and a lack of a clinical edge ultimately punished the visitors away to Middlesbrough.
The game started brightly for Sheffield with a powerful Megan Tinsley run proving too much for the Middlesbrough right back, and her cross into the box was hit narrowly wide by Molly Havard.
Sheffield who continued to press, winning the ball back regularly in the middle of the park but, with just half chances created, Middlesbrough's stopper, Ashleigh Trainer, remained largely untroubled.
On 12 minutes, it was the hosts who struck the first blow. Sheffield failed to clear their lines, and a needless lunge in the box clipped the heels of the Boro forward and resulted in the foul - penalty. Captain Emma Kelly stepped up and, despite Liz Hobson guessing the right way, the set piece's accuracy took it past the Sheffield keeper and into the bottom right corner.
The half continued as it had started. Sheffield causing mistakes from the hosts with their pressing game but failing to fashion any clear cut opportunities, having instead to settle for snap shots and half chances.
With just their second real chance of the game, Middlesbrough extended their lead from a free-kick from deep taken by Kelly which Hobson came for, spilled under pressure from the 'Boro forwards, and Leonie Hutcinson was able to bundle the loose ball in to the net from two yards out.
Moments later, it was three as all Sheffield's good work in the first half was undone by another error. A corner was flashed in from the right, and evaded all but the boot of Elenor Dale whose run was not tracked by her marker, leaving her free to volley it home from 10 yards out.
Sheffield came out in the same vein they had spent most of the first half: with the ball or working well to win it back. An excellent drive by Ellie Russell having dispossessed her midfield rival saw her brilliantly slide in Millee Clarke in range with a measured pass, but the forward slipped at the vital moment.
And, in similar fashion to the first half, Sheffield's lack of clinical touch was punished. A good ball split the visitors defence in half, before Dale expertly finished low into the corner for 4-0 with 49 minutes gone.
Sheffield's industry again created chances, but to no avail. Havard straight after Middlesbrough's latest, but the forward hit it well over the bar. Instead, it was Hobson who was tested the most throughout the half. First clawing an excellent long range effort from the top corner, before getting down low to turn around another dangerous shot.
Molly Johnson forced a smart stop from Trainer, but the keeper was less tidy on Jess Heald's attempt minutes later, the 'Boro keeper spilling the shot and Russell's follow up on the turn hitting the crossbar.
Another set-piece proved to be Sheffield's final undoing. A silly push just outside the box gave Holly Manders the opportunity to step up, and with her left-foot dispatched a superb free-kick into the top corner for the goal of the game.
As the half came to an end, a fantastic switch by Milly Wortley found the tireless Tinsley in space on the left. Her first touch was good, her second saw her dispatch a low shot across Trainer to pick up a consolation goal for Sheffield.
Although the score line was a little tough on the visitors given Sheffield's industry and prominence in the first half, silly defensive mistakes let a close first period slip away, and without enough clear cut chances created, the result was always going to go the way of the hosts.