Ladies First Team vs. Nottingham Forest (1 : 2)
FA WNL Northern Division
It had been nearly two months since Sheffield stepped out onto the Home of Football pitch, and their home coming was not the return they would have wished for.
Sheffield were boosted by the returns of Rhema Lord-Mears and Emma Johnson, and Nicole Kemp on loan from Sheffield United for the rest of the season.
It was Megan Tinsley, however, who posed the biggest threat to Nottingham Forest in the early stages, combining well down the left hand side, her powerful driving runs opening up the back line to create opportunities for Lisa Giampalma, Holly Housley and Lord-Mears.
In spite of their early dominance, Sheffield gifted the best chance of the game to their visitors. A long ball over the top and Katie Middleton's pace caused enough problems to draw a rash foul in the box which left the referee pointing instantly to the spot - Forest's third penalty in as many games and, thankfully for Sheffield, their third miss from 12 yards. Still 0-0.
Following more good play from Sheffield, it was Middleton again who caused problems for the host's defence. Receiving the ball on the half way, her turn and run evaded three Sheffield players, before she picked out Aimee Hickingbotham at the back post to slot home past Hobson.
As the second half started, so did Sheffield's intentions to get a result. From a well-defended Forest corner, Tinsley picked up the ball and drove 50 yards forward before delivering a perfectly-weighted ball onto the head of E Johnson who nodded it just wide.
From one great chance to disaster. A long ball wasn’t dealt with again at the back, once, twice, three times it failed to be cleared, and Forest had a simple chance - initially denied by Hobson - but stuck home by Ashleigh Edwards for 2-0.
Sheffield accelerated. A series of corners failed to really create killer opportunities before an exceptional through ball from Molly Johnson found Lord-Mears through on goal, but her shot was directed too close to the advancing Rebecca Thomas who made the save.
Into the last ten minutes, and the visitors had taken up camp in their own half. First Giampalma, then Housley delivered excellent crosses to pick out Lord-Mears in the middle, and the second proved decisive as she picked the ball out of the air and dispatched it with familiar style. 1-2 and a glimmer of hope.
More half chances were created which were hacked, scooped and prodded away, but without Sheffield able to really scare their guests, and in spite of a vast improvement in play, Sheffield were utlimately disappointed.
“We’ve come away bitterly disappointed by the result," admitted assistant manager, Chris Hames following the match. "We've done a lot of things right, but again a couple of errors have cost us and we come away with nothing to show for what was a massively improved performance."
"You could see our plan, and how we wanted to attack from the off, causing plenty of problems, which is very promising. The most important thing now is that we continue to build and focus on being more clinical, as we could have put this game - and so many others this season - beyond doubt early on."
"We have no time to dwell - we have another massive game this week-end as we travel to Bradford City, so we'll go again from there, searching for the next three points.”
Photos courtesy of Joshua Myers.