Ladies First Team vs. Oxford United (3 : 2)
Sheffield FC recorded a second win in the Spring Series, halting a run of three previous defeats, as they came from behind to beat Oxford United.
Three goals in 13 second half minutes saw Sheffield produce a superb second half comeback to overturn a 1-0 half-time deficit against The U's.
The visitors edged ahead after a decent start by Sheffield when captain Carla Ward made contact with Ini Umotong in the Sheffield penalty area, and the Oxford striker tumbled dramatically to the floor leaving the referee pointing to the spot. The forward dusted herself off quickly to dispatch a good penalty high and to the left, sending Juliana Draycott the wrong way.
The goal, instead of igniting the game, sent it into a flat patch with Sheffield clearly still recovering from the blow of going behind whilst Oxford failed to capitalise. There were fleeting moments of promise: Rhema Lord-Mears hitting a decent effort from long range which was not far over the bar, before a nice Sheffield move saw Danielle Cox feed Jenna Dear with a superb ball into the box, but the midfielder blasted over from 16 yards on her home debut.
Umotong was a constant menace up top for the visitors, with Ward and Sarah Jackson having to remain completely switched on to deal with Oxford's goal machine, which they did well, restricting Oxford to very few chances. Sheffield finished the half the stronger team without ever threatening Lucy Thomas's goal, and at the interval, it was Oxford who lead by a single goal.
Sheffield were a different side after the break, much more positive and energetic from the off and, on 52 minutes, Hannah Dale's bursting run forward was halted just outside the Oxford box and Jenna Dear’s low driven free-kick to the far post caught out Thomas to level things up.
Hannah Cain was introduced by the visitors, Lagan Makin withdrawn, and the forward had an instant impact, pressing from the front and happy to run at the Oxford back line in possession.
Sheffield took the lead on 58 minutes when Dear's free-kick was cleared by Oxford but dropped to Emma Johnson who touched the ball to one side to make room before unleashing a 25-yard bullet which crashed off the underside of the bar and bounced down over the line.
And eight minutes later, the hosts extended their lead when a superb driving run by Cain, her shot was blocked by the defender but rebounded to Ellie Gilliatt who turned inside and smashed a rising effort beyond Thomas for 3-1.
Understandably frustrated, Oxford rallied but a series of over-zealous challenges saw Umotong go into the referee's notebook, but the visitors responded in the right way with just under 15 minutes to go when Jess Frampton's cross from the right was headed in by Umotong rising highest in the box.
In the rush to get the ball back, Umotong clashed with Draycott and both players were shown a yellow card, in Umotong's case, her second of the match, and Oxford were reduced to ten players.
That ended any real hopes of a comeback from Oxford, and Zoe Johnson’s side played out time for a much needed three points.
Photo courtesy of John Taff