Women's Report: Sheffield United 0-1 Saints


Southampton FC Women secured another three points against a strong Sheffield United side at Bramall Lane.

A first half Ella Pusey goal was the difference as Saints came through for all three points at Bramall Lane.

Southampton FC Women travelled to a soggy Sheffield United in search of another result in the Barclays Women’s Championship.

Neil Redfearn’s Blades sat just one place below Saints in sixth ahead of the encounter, with a healthy goal difference to their advantage.

A sodden pitch made it difficult for either side to impose themselves in the opening encounters, with much of the play in the centre third of the pitch.

Saints’ first opportunity came through former Blades player Katie Wilkinson and Ella Morris; the two linking up on the edge of the box, with the latter racing through goalward, only to see the flag raised for offside.

Megan Wynne was a workhorse in midfield, and was almost rewarded for her efforts on the five minute mark, as a poor clearance saw the number eleven in space down the left hand side, but the Blades defence did well to get back and prevent a real chance.

However, it wasn’t long after that Saints converted opportunity into fruition, as Ella Pusey latched onto a through ball, rounded the keeper and curled her effort into the net to make it 1-0.

Captain Rosie Parnell was leading from central defence, providing a cool head on 17 minutes as Sheffield United’s Maddy Cusack looked to be in plenty of space. Parnell did well to time her challenge and knock the ball away from danger.

A period of scrappy play from Saints as the clock ticked into the 20th minute and beyond allowed the home side to get a foothold in the game, and Kayla Rendell had to be on glittering form to tip away a long range shot, followed by an awkward corner delivery.

Despite the drop in tempo from Saints, they still created chances, and Leeta Rutherford was the next to trouble the Blades defence. Wilkinson farmed out a ball on the right to Wynne, whose delivery looked to be an easy clear for Charlotte Newsham, but miscommunication at the back saw Rutherford steal forward, almost hammering a shot into the back of the net.

Saints began to re-establish themselves as the half headed into the final five minutes, with Wynne and Wilkinson again looking like a lethal pairing going forward and some one-touch football saw the former deliver into the box to a waiting Pusey, who couldn’t quite get the volley on target.

A half time change saw Lucia Kendall once again enter the fray, following her triumphant return against Birmingham City earlier in the week.

Saints were under the cosh early, as Rendell had to parry away a stinging shot to deny after the box was flooded with red shirts.

Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side were dealt a blow in the 55th minute as Megan Collett hobbled out of a 50/50 challenge worse for wear, Lexi Lloyd-Smith entering the field in her place minutes later.

It was the Blades with the possession as the half ticked on, but Alice Griffiths continued to work hard in the middle to secure the ball and make thing happen.

In the 70th minute, Saints fans were cursing the sound of the whistle as Lloyd-Smith was brought down as she raced forward with her final touch playing in teammate Pusey. Despite what looked like a good advantage, the freekick was given, deflecting out for a corner.

Rutherford made herself known in the box for that corner, heading onto the crossbar - The closest Saints had come in the second half.

Sheffield United were piling on the pressure with 15 minutes to play, and Griffiths had to put her body on the line to deny a real goalscoring opportunity as a Blades ball dropped on the edge of the box and was slammed towards goal; a sliding block was enough to deny.

With less than ten to play, Spacey-Cale threw Ciara Watling and Georgie Freeland into the mix, replacing the relentless Megan Wynne and goalscorer Ella Pusey.

Sheffield United continued to roll the dice in search of an equaliser, but Lloyd-Smith was especially impressive in the more defensive role, denying a number of attacks from the Blades.

Saints showed a new dimension to their game as they held on, moving up to third place in the league at the same time.