Ladies First Team vs. Tottenham Hotspur (4 : 2)
It was a dramatic encounter when the two clubs last met back in January, and they served up an equally absorbing game at Cheshunt FC, with Sheffield on the right end of the final 4-2 score line.
Melissa Johnson had netted a hat-trick in Sheffield's 4-3 win against Tottenham at the Home of Football, and the striker was a thorn in Spurs' side once more, scoring two and setting up both other goals, as Sheffield recorded back-to-back league wins.
Johnson's finishes were the difference at half-time, but Tottenham came out a changed side in the second half, and when Ashleigh Neville headed home and Sarah Wiltshire hit a wonder-goal either side of a Chloe Dixon's third for Sheffield, Spurs threatened a comeback. But Wiltshire scored for a second time – this time at the wrong end - as her own goal rounded off an great contest with the points going back to South Yorkshire.
Sheffield got off to the best possible start as M Johnson pressured an underhit back pass to Renee Hector which bobbled on the pitch surface over the defender's boots, Johnson pounced and out-paced two defenders to hit a shot right into the bottom corner for 1-0.
The visitors fashioned more chances in the opening 10 minutes with Johnson, Jenna Dear and Danielle Cox all going close. Spurs best opening came from a corner which picked our a free Katie O'Leary in the box who couldn't direct the header on target from 6 yards out.
Tottenham were seeing plenty of the ball, but a high pressing game from Sheffield resulted in the majority of that possession being in their own half. Another turnover by M Johnson allowed her to play Dear in with a square ball on the edge of the box, and the midfielder's first time effort was narrowly over the bar.
Hannah Cain and Emma Johnson went close with other first half efforts, but it was M Johnson who extended the visitor's lead two minutes from the break. Josie Green brought down Dear just outside the box to the left of the goal, and from the free-kick, Dear whipped a delivery in which M Johnson got to first to send a shot powering into the roof of the next from 8 yards out.
Tottenham were a changed team after the interval, playing with much more attack and intensity, and they reduced the deficit on 51 minutes when Neville timed her run perfectly to connect with a corner and bullet a header past the helpless Danielle Gibbons.
A free-kick from 30 yards out was hit superbly by Spurs' skipper Jenna Schillaci but flew just wide of Gibbons' far post, and Dear saw her shot off a Sheffield corner scrambled off the line as the two sides traded chances.
With Tottenham continuing to take the game to the visitors, Sheffield needed a third to shore things up and, right on cue, the visitors restored their two goal cushion as M Johnson found Dixon on the right flank in acres of space, and the forward drove into the box and fired high past Toni-Anne Wayne, restoring the two-goal lead heading into the final 15 minutes.
The disappointment of Wendy Martin's disallowed goal for offside minutes later was quickly forgotten as Wiltshire produced the goal of the game, burying a half-volley from the edge of the box after Neville's clever chipped pass over her marker right in the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Momentum was back with the hosts and the game finely balanced, but with three minutes to go, the killer blow for Spurs as a strong attack up the right by M Johnson allowed her to cross into the danger zone and, under pressure, the unfortunate Wiltshire headed the ball into her own net.
That took the wind out of Spurs' sails, and Sheffield almost scored another as substitute Hannah Dale smashed a shot against the crossbar with her first touch after coming on in stoppage time.
A very solid performance from Sheffield both defensively and going forward, with the visitors taking their chances at key moments in the game. Spurs gave it a real go in the second half, but didn't quite have enough, perhaps disadvantaged having also played midweek. Sheffield remain behind Spurs in the table, but close the gap to just a point with two games in hand on their opponents.
Match photos courtesy of Wu Ying.