Ladies First Team vs. Millwall Lionesses (1 : 2)
Sheffield slipped to a fourth consecutive league defeat which they can feel slightly aggrieved at having thrown everything at high-flying Millwall Lionesses.
All the goals came in the first half with Sheffield taking an early lead through Hannah Cain before a quick-fire double from Ella Rutherford turned the game on its head.
Sheffield beat Millwall on the opening day of the Spring Series - the Lionesses last defeat in the league - so the visitors were fully expectant of a tough match against the third placed side. Yet it was Sheffield pulling the strings in the opening 20 minutes, coming out of the blocks quickly and taking the game to their hosts.
And that pressure reaped its reward as, on seven minutes, a ball over the top from Sarah Jackson found Cain in space on the right and she raced clear, drilling a shot across the Lionesses' keeper, Sarah Quantrill, and in off the right-hand post.
Holly Housley was next to try her luck, volleying over the bar from an Emma Johnson free-kick which had initially been cleared by Millwall. The Yorkshire side were pressing intently, with the skilful dribbling of Rhema Lord-Mears causing the hosts no end of problems, fashioning a headed chance for Hannah Dale, before getting up to Sarah Jackson centre herself - Quantrill equal to both. Another mazy run from the forward cutting in off the byline, ended with her shot drifting just wide of the target on 21 minutes.
Sheffield goalkeeper, Danielle Gibbons, was first called into action a minute later, parrying really well from Charlie Devlin's vicious shot from close range off a Millwall corner. Minutes later, Amber Gaylor lashed a shot wide of the upright after a strong attack up the left side.
It took until 35 minutes for Millwall to level - Holly Housley allowing the ball to bounce over her head with Rutherford taking advantage of indecision in the Sheffield defence with an assured finish. The lapse in concentration continued for Sheffield as Millwall made it 2-1 four minutes later when Bonnie Horwood's corner was swung in from the left, Gibbons came out but didn't get there, and Rutherford bundled the ball over the line from close range.
Sheffield got it back together for the last five minutes of the half with Lord-Mears supplying a squared ball which evaded everyone in the box, Quantrill saving bravely at the feet of Beth Donoghue, and Emma Johnson having an effort which failed to excessively trouble Quantrill.
The second half had fewer chances, but the majority fell to Sheffield who threw everything at their London opponents, and should have snatched a point late on.
Half-time substitute Jenna Dear had an instant impact, linking up well with Cain particularly as Sheffield went on the offensive again. A stoppage strewn opening 20 minutes though meant the visitors struggle to build up momentum, as Millwall's physical style disrupted the flow of the game.
Just before the hour mark, space opened up for Hannah Dale off a clever Dear pass, but a superb covering tackle from Georgina Giddings, just as the midfielder was about to pull the trigger, kept Sheffield out.
Following a double substitution by Sheffield on 68 minutes, the game finally started to open up again with Katie Anderson and Chloe Dixon injecting new energy. Dear's driven free-kick was directed agonisingly wide on 69 minutes, then there were big shouts as the midfielder was brought down right on the edge of the box - referee gave nothing.
Sheffield threw everything at Millwall for the final 20 minutes, with the majority of the game played in the Lionesses half, but the hosts' defending limited Sheffield to a handful of half chances until the final ten minutes when the visitors efforts were really ramped up.
Dixon had arguably the best chance of that period, put through between the centre halves off another creative pass from the excellent Dear, but her shot which drifted fractionally over the bar with Quantrill coming out quickly.
With eight minutes of stoppage time, Sheffield sensed there was time for an equaliser, but Millwall's defending frustrated yet again as Dixon's effort was blocked from close range. A corner with a minute left was Sheffield's last chance, and again Millwall threw bodies on the line to somehow block two shots in the box and so, despite an almighty effort, the ball would just not go in for Sheffield, leaving Millwall to pick up all three points.