Middlesbrough Overturn Half-Time Score to Defeat Sheffield
A wet and soggy afternoon in Sheffield saw last season’s Northern Premier Division third placed side Middlesbrough make a return to the Home of Football Stadium for the first time in seven years.
But it was the hosts who opened the scoring after just three minutes when Lisa Giampalma punished an error in the Middlesbrough defence, intercepting a wayward clearance and the forward’s quick-thinking from 25 yards out sent the defence scrambling back fruitlessly as she sent the ball into the empty net and the perfect start for Sheffield.
Middlesbrough were not to be deterred though and hit back just five minutes later when Emma Foster rose above a static Sheffield defence and powered home a solid header from a ‘Boro corner.
Sheffield looked to regroup and continued in their pursuit of the season’s first points. On a wet and meticulously groomed surface, both teams played attractive, passing football, with Sheffield retaining possession far better than in the season’s opener against Huddersfield Town.
An even half developed with both teams enjoying good spells of possession and threatening the goal on occasion. Sheffield’s Jess Heald and Ellie White provided good chances for Holly Housley to convert, but the ‘Boro defence stood firm.
White was to be involved again on 35 minutes, turning her defender and unleashing a venomous left-footed strike beyond the keeper and inside the back post to give Sheffield the lead once more.
After the restart, Sheffield looked to pick up where they left off, this time an ever present Molly Johnson looking to trouble the ‘Boro goal but to no avail.
Five minutes in and Middlesbrough found their feet in the half earning a free-kick in a dangerous area. Becky Bass received the wide pass before sending a cross-come-shot into the box, catching goalkeeper Hobson out before finding its way under the crossbar and into the back the net for 2-2.
Giampalma nearly established the lead once more, again profiting from an error at the back, but her first time shot was unable to test the keeper, keeping the scores level.
And minutes later with the game opening up, it was Middlesbrough’s turn to attack and they made no mistake as a flicked on long ball forward released Emily Scarr who drove on and slotted home under the body of Hobson.
As the game wore on, Sheffield continued to search out an equaliser but to no avail. Molly Johnson stuck a long range effort to test ‘Boro’s stopper, Laura Wareham, who got finger tips to the shot to claw it out of the goalmouth and round the post for a corner. From the resulting set piece, M Johnson’s delivery found the head of Megan Tinsley, but again Wareham produced a superb save before a scramble on the line fell in Middlesbrough’s favour to preserve the visitor’s winning score line.
Manager Kyle O’Reilly gave his thoughts after the contest:
“After last week’s gritty performance, we haven’t sat around feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve all worked hard in training and that has helped a much improved performance today. We upped our game, produced a much stronger 90 minutes, and had some really good opportunities.
“We probably deserved more from the game overall, but you don’t always get what you deserve, which is something we have to learn quickly as a group. Errors cost you goals at this level, especially with the quality Middlesbrough have in front of goal. A disappointing result, but overall a solid performance and a step in the right direction to this group reaching their potential.”
Photo courtesy of Julian Barker