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  • By football reporter

Lionesses lose the lead and three points away to Sheffield

By Football Reporter

Lucy Watson’s stunning second-half strike gave Sheffield United all three points as they came from behind to beat London City Lionesses 2-1 at Bramhall Lane in the FA Women's Championship.

Lionesses Jamie-Lee Napier’s run from the halfway line and shot wide was the closest either side got in the early stages. That was until Fran Kitching punched a corner straight up in the air. In the throng of players underneath it on the goal-line, Carly Girasoli rose highest to head in.

United nearly got back in the game through Rhema Lord-Mears. Her dipping shot from the edge of the area beat Yanez but struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced clear.

Kitching made up for her earlier error just before half-time. Ellie Wilson brought Amy Rodgers down in the penalty area and referee Emily Carney pointed to the spot. Atlanta Primus drilled her penalty low but Kitching dived to her right and got a firm hand on it to prevent a two-goal deficit.

And Kitching made another amazing save from Primus. Shanade Hopcroft pulled a cross back to Primus who controlled and hit a low shot from eight yards, but Kitching was in the way again.

Kitching’s saves proved crucial as the Blades, on the back foot for most of the game equalised. Great work from Lord-Mears saw her pull-back for Courtney Sweetman-Kirk who stabbed home from close range.

That goal switched the impetus of the game and soon after Watson smashed a sensational drive from outside the area onto the underside of the crossbar, and this time over the line.

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Sheffield United: (4-2-3-1): 20 Fran Kitching; 2 Ellie Wilson, 25 Sophie Bradley-Auckland ©, 5 Georgia Robert, 10 Alethea Paul; 6 Kasia Lipka, 8 Maddy Cusack; 9 Lucy Watson, 12 Rhema Lord-Mears, 26 Georgia Walters; 7 Courtney Sweetman-Kirk. Substitutes: 18 Sophie Walton for Lord-Mears 85, 14 Mia Enderby for Watson 89 Substitutes not used: 1 Nina Wilson, 11 Jess Clarke, 17 Matilda Taylor, 23 Sam Sharrocks, 27 Lara Miller Goals: Sweetman-Kirk 55, Watson 68 Bookings: Walters 90+4

London City Lionesses: (4-1-4-1): 30 Shea Yanez ©; 7 Alli Palisch, 6 Carly Girasoli, 15 Hayley Nolan 11 Jamie-Lee Napier; 12 Mollie Rouse; 24 Shanade Hopcroft, 8 Amy Rodgers, 20 Atlanta Primus, 25 Brooke Nunn; 10 Lily Agg. Substitutes: 17 Lucy Fitzgerald for Palisch 62, 4 Charlotte Fleming for Rouse 76, 14 Harley Bennett for Primus 76, Katie Kitching for Girasoli 90+5 Substitutes not used: 18 Anna Pedersen, 3 Melis Mehmet, 19 Viktoria Fronc, 21 Annie Rossiter, 25 Kenni Thompson Goals: Girasoli 20

Referee: Emily Carney Attendance: 563

Sheffield United goal scorer Lucy Watson: "It feels great. I think in the first half we were a bit shaky, and we went into the changing rooms, but Redders (Neil Redfearn) just calmed us down and told us that we didn’t play badly. We then settled down and in the second half we were definitely the better team for those 45 minutes.

“I think we changed our formation and that allowed us to push further up the pitch. Courts (Courtney Sweetman-Kirk) took that goal well and from then we had great confidence behind us. We knew that we were going to go onto win it.”

(On her goal): “As soon as I got the ball, I knew what to do. After Courts scored her goal, she said to me ‘you’re going to get the winner, I can feel it’ so as soon as I took that first touch, I thought I’ll take a touch inside and just shoot with my left foot, like I always do.

“It went in off the crossbar and I was practising a crossbar challenge in Friday’s training session, so that has paid off.”

LCL goalkeeper and captain Shea Yanez: “It’s a tough one to take. She has got a good left foot, we let her cut inside and she hits a banger. Unfortunately, we couldn’t respond.

“I think we had a lot of chances, but we weren’t clinical enough, we weren’t relentless in the box.

“I think momentum sways and shifts during the game and you have to be able to capitalise when you have the momentum and unfortunately, we didn’t.

“I will say to the team, recover and it is a new week. Time to get the three points next week.”

LCL head coach Melissa Phillips: “We needed to increase our percentage of possession because we were allowing the game to be too transitional. They are one of the better teams in the league in counter-attacking situations. But also, we need to put away our chances, that is the reality. We create more than enough in games and if we aren’t going to put away our chances, we have to minimise opposition threats and I don’t think we did that well enough today.

“The aims from now are that the table remains unchanged. Durham have drawn even on points with us, so the mission for us remains the same. We want to finish as high as we possibly can in the table. We have got five matches - we want 15 points from those matches.”

“We have to have that hunger and drive because we know that it has been fine margins where we have dropped points and a lot of times, we have been the better side in games. It is tough growing pains and areas where we will have to take a good hard look at ourselves as to where we can be better.”


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