Sheffield United 1-3 Lewes
FA Women’s Championship
Match report by Tai
The Rooks put to bed two unwanted records with a convincing 3-1 away win over Sheffield United.
Lewes went into the game having not beaten Sheffield United in the last six meetings (5 losses, 1 draw), and had not won away this season. But that all ended after goals from Ini Umotong, Paula Howells and Lucy Ashworth-Clifford saw the Rooks comfortable winners at the Technique Stadium.
Lewes looked in charge from the get go, being more dominant with possession. However, they were almost behind when Shanell Salgado was closed down and her clearance cannoned off the attacker, luckily bouncing past the goal. That scare gave Lewes impetus. Soon after, O’Rourke made an overlapping run, crossing in and finding Ashworth-Clifford who’s shot was desperately closed down by the Sheffield defence. The signs were promising.
Lewes continued to look dangerous and were causing Sheffield a real headache as the chances started to mount up. Hazard missed a good opportunity when she couldn’t quite get the ball out of her feet after Umotong’s great work in the build-up. Umotong had charged into the box, nutmegging the defender on the line and cutting back the ball to Hazard. But the goal was soon to come…
28 minutes into the game, The Rooks found the breakthrough. Freda Ayisi played the ball to Ashworth-Clifford on the right who checked back, whipped a delicious ball in with her left foot and found Umotong on the six yard line to nod in a towering header, putting the Rooks 1-0 up and fully in control of the first half from there on in.
One became two 13 minutes later. Umotong turned on the half way line and just ran, powering towards the goal, the Sheffield defence fleeing like an army in retreat. You wondered if she was going to go all the way but, instead, took stock on the edge of the box. She laid it across to Ayisi who took a touch with her back to goal, held off the defender and then put it on a plate for Howells, who emphatically smashed her shot into the roof of the net. 2-0 to the Rooks at the break. The half time whistle could not have come soon enough for Sheffield United.
If in the first half the attacking players were the stars, in the second it was all about the defensive players. Sheffield made two subs during half time and came out all guns firing from the start of the second. They had numerous crosses which were continuously cleared, Nicola Cousins always turning up in the right place. When Sheffield did manage to get their opportunities on target, Salgado was strong to parry those chances away, the pick of the bunch being her save from Sweetman-Kirk when the Sheffield striker was one on one with the keeper.
Despite all the Sheffield pressure putting Lewes on the back foot, the Rooks found that valuable third goal to put the game beyond doubt. Ashworth-Clifford fired in on the 72nd minute, adding to the assist from earlier in the game and the two goals she scored against Coventry the week before. An honourable mention should go out to the filthy nutmeg she pulled off very late in the game too when, shielding the ball by the corner flag, she cut back against the two defenders closing her down, leaving one looking in-between her legs and both of them for dead.
Sadly, the clean sheet couldn’t be maintained as Althea Paul found a consolation goal for Sheffield in the 85th minute, the only blip on a brilliant away day performance by the Rooks.
A 3-1 victory in a manner which would bring a smile to all associated with the club.
The Rooks head into the international break on a high. While we await the FA Cup draw, we have a Conti Cup fixture to look forward to at the Dripping Pan as we play Reading on Wednesday 15th December. Hopefully we can continue the brilliant form we have seen in the past two League games. UP THE ROOKS!
Starting Line Up: Salgado, Cleverly, Cousins, O’Rourke, McKenna, Hazard, Cross, Ashworth-Clifford, Howells, Ayisi, Umotong,
Subs: Dalton (75’), Logan (82’)
Subs Not Used: Hartley, Hack, Collins, Noble, Miller