Ladies First Team vs. Stoke City (2 : 2)
FA WNL Northern Division
A third goal of the season from Milly Wortley and a Holly Housley penalty twice dragged Sheffield from being behind to earn a point from their trip to sixth placed Stoke City Ladies.
The first half gave little to inspire purists of the game, with the ball spending a majority of its time flying high over both teams' midfields.
When there were moments, it was Stoke who created the better ones with Ella Pemberton hitting the side netting from an angle, Amy Hughes firing over from the edge of the box, and Beth Roberts and Ashleigh Hayes threatening.
A strong save by Liz Hobson on the half hour mark off a powerful Hayes shot was enough to nullify Stoke's most dangerous effort on goal, whilst Stacey Wright, between the sticks for the Potters, obliged at the other end, turning a dipping Housley strike over the bar with a flying save.
The second half bore a stark contrast to the first, with both sides coming out, looking to break parity. Sheffield started well forcing a couple of chances in behind, the newly introduced Molly Havard causing problems for the host's back three.
But it was the Staffordshire side that took the lead when a typically long ball evaded all but the chasing Hayes, who was ultimately brought down by Hobson just inside the box. Penalty to Stoke.
Kelsey Richardson stepped up dispatching her shot low to Hobson's right and, in spite of getting a good hand to the ball at full stretch, just couldn't quite keep the powerful shot from creeping over the line.
Sheffield came back swinging, and were level within four minutes when good pressure from the Yorkshire side gave them the chance they needed from a corner. Molly Johnson swung the ball in, Housley volleyed and Wortley cleverly flicked the ball home at the far post for 1-1.
With Housley down injured, Stoke made the numerical advantage count ten minutes later - using the injured player on the floor as a way of staying onside, Hayes received the ball with time and space, drove forward to round Hobson, before tucking home neatly to restore Stoke's lead.
Down, but not out, Sheffield pulled themselves up from the canvas. Lord-Mears worked herself past one, two, three players before picking out Lisa Giampalma in the box, her volley unable to trouble Wright and lifted over the bar.
Moments later, however, Giampalma was put through and in a battle with Bowyer and Emily Owen, was pulled back when driving into the box, and the referee pointed to the spot for a second time in the game. And for the second successive week, Housley made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Stacey Wright the wrong way.
A late flurry of half chances for both sides offered moments of excitement in the dying minutes. Cassie Hyde hit the base of the post from 6 yards for Stoke, before Wortley forced a good save from Wright at the other end, then Hughes sent a shot wide of the Sheffield upright.
Sheffield FC manager, Calum Oakenfold, was happy to pick up a point after his first full game in charge:
“It was a really tough game against a physical side, but the character our players showed to battle against that was fantastic. Tactically, the players understood what we were asking for, and put that in place well.”
"We showed a determination to come back from behind twice, and to build on the Bradford result last week. Its good to have that continuation of getting results.”
Next up for Sheffield is a return home where they welcome Fylde Ladies FC to the Home of Football for the very first time on Sunday 3 March, kick off 2pm.
Photos by Paula Johnson.
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