Ladies First Team vs. Oxford United (4 : 1)
Sheffield hit four goals for the third week running to notch up three consecutive FA WSL 2 wins, keeping them one place ahead of their opponents, Oxford United.
Emma Johnson’s second-half brace was added to by powerful strikes from Hannah Cain and Jenna Dear, putting the gloss on a comfortable 4-1 Sheffield win, with Georgia Timms’ late strike nothing more than a consolation for the U’s.
In spite of a couple of early dramas, it took the game a little time to settle down and for Sheffield to get into their running. Cain's afternoon looked like it might be over with just seven seconds on the watch as a poorly timed-tackle by Ella Franklin-Fraiture left the Sheffield forward flat out on the turf and requiring medical attention.
Many supporters at the Home of Football felt Oxford's goalkeeper, Demi Lambourne, was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch after just nine minutes when she brought down Melissa Johnson outside the penalty area with the striker through on goal. The referee adjudged only a yellow card was warranted.
That decision injected some lift into the hosts who started to show the form that had brought them two wins in their last two outing. Cain was released through to the left of the goal only to drag a shot wide, before the striker then went closer, forcing Lambourne to turn her low shot round the near post.
Melissa Johnson had a couple of good chances to break the deadlock which Lambourne was equal to, before a third opening saw the striker hit the side netting, and the team's went into the break all square.
With Oxford failing to create any real chances in the first half, the game was there for the taking if Sheffield could smarten up on their finishing, and three minutes into the second half, Emma Johnson obliged, bundling the ball over the line from close range off Ellie Gilliatt's cross from the left.
That opened the floodgates for the hosts who bagged three more within the space of ten minutes. First Hannah Cain drilled home a super effort from outside the box to double Sheffield’s lead, her shot bending away from Lambourne to nestle high up in the back of the net.
Johnson then added her second of the afternoon with a low driven free-kick from the edge of the Oxford penalty area which found its way into the bottom corner past the helpless Lambourne.
Sheffield began to enjoy themselves, and M Johnson might have added to the score line but Lambourne saved smartly from the striker's quick turn and shot from 12 yards out. Midfielder Jenna Dear then got in on the act, unleashing a fierce half-volley from outside the area after the U’s cleared a corner off the line.
Pinned into their own half for the vast majority of the second half, Oxford struggled to build the momentum required to break Sheffield's dominance, and the home team might have added two or three more to their haul.
A double substitution for Oxford five minutes from time introduced Jess Graham and Georgia Timms to the action who straight away upped the ante for the visitors, the latter scoring with her first touch as she headed a cross from the left past Danielle Gibbons to reduce the arrears.
But it was nothing more than a consolation as Sheffield quashed any murmur of a fightback, seeing out time maturely to record their third league win on the bounce.
Photography by Joe Smart.