Seagulls Too Strong For Sheffield at The Home of Football
Brighton & Hove Albion moved up to third place in the FA WSL 2 table thanks to a 4-1 win at the Home of Football.
Striker Ini Umotong scored the only goal of the opening half, her eighth of the season, but the visitors added to that in the second half through Kate Natkiel and Aileen Whelan. Danielle Buet then stepped up and sent a late penalty passed Danielle Gibbons before Emma Johnson got a late consolation from the spot for Sheffield.
The early period of the game was uneventful, both teams getting back into their stride following the four week international break. Brighton settled better and moved the ball around really well, even under a high press from Sheffield, but they were restricted to efforts from distance in the opening 20 minutes.
Fliss Gibbons came closest with a fine effort that whistled passed Danielle Gibbons post, then Sheffield had their first chance from which Melissa Johnson found the side netting.
Brighton broke the deadlock on 31 minutes when Amanda Nilden’s free-kick found Umotong, and the striker climbed above her marker to head past Gibbons from close range. The Sheffield goalkeeper then pulled off a superb save moments later to deny Aileen Whelan from close range.
In a scrappy game generally, Sheffield had their best spell just before the break, but Jenna Dear fired over and M Johnson's shot also failed to trouble Marie Hourihan in the Brighton goal.
Sheffield carried on where they left off after the break, winning a series of free-kicks around the Brighton box. But the hosts couldn't capitalise on any of these to fashion a chance, and from one of these, Brighton hit Sheffield on the counter-attack, and Kate Natkiel was on the end of Chloe Peplow's cross-field pass, slotting the ball in for 2-0.
Straight away though, Sheffield reacted and should have pulled a goal back as M Johnson swept a pass into the path of Katie Anderson who shot straight at Hourihan. Sophie Jones was put through minutes later, but Hourihan was off her line smartly to save at the forward's feet.
Another free-kick for Sheffield on 70 minutes was again unfruitful as Dear lifted the ball in too close to Hourihan who came to claim comfortably. Ellie Gilliatt tested the Brighton stopper down low with a good effort after a fine driving run, but again, the loanee keeper was equal to it.
With just under 15 minutes remaining, Brighton finished the game off as Whelan latched onto a fine cross from Sophie Perry, volleying home from close range.
Hope Powell's side always looked like adding to their haul, and Laura Rafferty should have done so from a corner, but her header from 6 yards out was straight into the arms of Gibbons.
When a driving run by Gibbons was brought to an abrupt end by a foul inside the box, Danielle Buet sent Sheffield's keeper the wrong way, but the scorer then brought down M Johnson in the area at the other end of the pitch, and Emma Johnson slotted home the consolation from the spot in the final minute of normal time.
Sheffield: Gibbons, Kemp (Housley 67), Jackson, Cox, Gilliatt, McCue. Dear, E Johnson, Anderson (Dale 86), M Johnson, Jones (Donoghue 67)
Brighton: Hourihan, Perry, Buet, Rafferty, Gibbons, Peplow, Natkiel, Barton (Legg), Whelan, Umotong (Somes 65), Nilden (Pharoah (82)