• By Paul Lagan

Naz scores on return from injury but Spurs crash to Sheffield United


Spurs Ladies suffered a setback in their hunt for the FA Women’s Championship title, following a 2-1 defeat at home to Sheffield United.

The Lilywhites made a disappointing return to league action, having not played in a competitive game since the 1-0 home victory over Leicester in February.

Jessica Naz recovered from the injury which kept her out of the side’s last two games to fire Spurs ahead early in the second half, but the Blades took full advantage of two defensive errors to shock Spurs at Theobalds Lane – Ebony Salmon and Jade Pennock the goalscorers for the visitors.

The defeat sees Spurs drop into second place, now one point behind Manchester United, who won at Charlton, and still have a game in hand – the two teams come head-to-head at Cheshunt next Sunday (31st March).

Spurs started well and had an early attempt on goal after Naz combined with Rianna Dean, who teed up Josie Green for her shot that went wide of the crossbar after three minutes.

The visitors looked sharp in attack and Chloe Morgan was called into action on two occasions within five minutes. The goalkeeper did well to save a thunderous strike from Bex Rayner, before preventing Salmon’s effort from distance.

The hosts went in front within ten minutes of the interval and Ashleigh Neville was superb in the build-up to find Bianca Baptiste – her ball over the top put Naz through on goal and the young forward coolly slotted it past Fran Bentley.

Sheffield found an equaliser nine minutes later through Salmon, who joined the Blades on loan from Manchester United in January. The Spurs defence failed to deal with a long ball from Bentley and Salmon was alert to capitalize on the error and beat Morgan from close range.

Ten minutes later, Dean had the perfect opportunity to respond following a superb cross in from Megan Wynne but the striker sent the ball inches wide.

The Blades looked threatening throughout the entire game and a second goal for them in the 90th minute proved to be the winner after Pennock converted Rayner’s free-kick, leaving the home side distraught at the final whistle.

Team news:

Spurs Ladies: Chloe Morgan, Josie Green, Sophie Mclean (Coral-Jade Haines 45), Renée Hector, Bianca Baptiste (Sarah Wiltshire 77), Rianna Dean, Jenna Schillaci ©, Megan Wynne, Emma Beckett, Jessica Naz (Angela Addison 55), Ashleigh Neville.

Substitutes not used: Emma Gibbon, Lucia Leon, Anne Meiwald, Anna Filbey.

Sheffield United: Fran Bentley; Hollie Barker, Danielle Cox, Naomi Hartley, Jade Pennock; Sophie Barker, Maddy Cusack, Bex Rayner; Chloe Dixon (Veatriki Sarri 62), Ebony Salmon, Alethea Paul (Sam Tierney 62).

Substitutes not used: Nikki Davies, Izzy Ford

Match Data:

Goals: Spurs Ladies – Jessica Naz (55) Sheffield United – Ebony Salmon (64), Jade Pennock (90)

Referee: Law Bik Chi

Venue: Cheshunt FC

Attendance: 502

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