Ladies First Team vs. Nottingham Forest (2 : 1)
FA WNL Northern Division
Midfielder, Ellie White, coolly converted penalties either side of the break to secure Sheffield FC Ladies' second league win in five days courtesy of a 2-1 win away at Nottingham Forest.
With confidence improved following a first league win of the season the prevoius week-end, Club travelled south for their first fixture of the new campaign under floodlights.
It was the hosts who started the brighter, looking to control the ball and play in Sheffield's half without ever really troubling Elizabeth Hobson between the sticks.
Once Sheffield settled and found their way into the game, the match evened up with forwards Lisa Giampalma and Millee Clarke keeping the Forest defence honest and in check.
20 minutes in and the deadlock was to be broken: Megan Tinsley swept a cross behind the Forest back line into the path of the on-rushing Giampalma, who was bundled over before being able to connect with the cross. The resulting penalty was dispatched coolly by White to give Sheffield a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, the game resumed much as before, with both teams trying to force an opening but without asking too many questions of either keeper.
Both team's midfield's were at the heart of the contest, neither giving an inch in a physical but honest battle, and with the two defensive lines looking confident and composed and extinguishing attacking moves in the main before shots were dispatched.
With the visitors leading, Forest started the second half looking to commit bodies forward to search out an equaliser, asking questions of Sheffield's defensive credentials.
Ellie Russell and Tinsley both stood up to the test keeping the hosts wingers quiet, with Rosa Neary and Leigha Goodwin limiting any impact on Hobson's goal, and keeping Nottingham Forest's forwards at arms length.
The home team's persistence was to be rewarded on 67 minutes though, as a breakdown in possession allowed the ball to be worked centrally to Sophia Bonser who struck a venomous shot from 30 yards out, eluding everyone and finding its way into the goal via the post: a wonder strike to level the scores.
In spite of conceding, Sheffield's heads didn’t drop, and the team set about in search of a winner. The outstretched boot of Ellie Hawcroft almost restored Sheffield's lead, but she was inches away from connecting with a great free-kick to the back post, as the game looked destined for a draw.
That is, until four minutes from time when Forest ‘keeper Rebecca Thomas, having collected the ball from a Sheffield attack, kicked out at Sheffield's Molly Havard. The referee produced a red card and awarded Sheffield a penalty, and once again, White was on hand to fire home her second of the night from 12 yards past substitute goalkeeper, Philipa Davies, handing all three points to Sheffield.
Sheffield manager Kyle O'Reilly gave his thoughts post-match:
"It's a very satisfying three points after travelling away mid-week. We started slowly and I felt it was going to be a long night, but once we settled, we competed well.
"As the game dragged on at 1-0, it looked likely it would stay that way as neither side really tested the opposition keeper. Their equaliser was a great strike, and a draw would have been a fair result in all honesty. But then the madness which preceded our second goal just shows that, at this level, it can often be about teams losing games with errors as opposed to teams going out and winning them."
"For us, it's a lesson in that we have to keep focused and composed for 90 minutes, as we don’t want to be on the receiving end of those kind of mistakes that can cost points.
"Its been a really positive few days picking up back-to-back wins ahead of our toughest test so far as we face current Northern Premier Division champions, Blackburn Rovers, on Sunday."