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Report: Sheffield United Women 3-3 Rovers Ladies

Rovers twice held a two-goal lead but had to settle for a point in Yorkshire

13 December 2020

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Rovers were denied a fifth FA Women’s Championship win of the season by Sheffield United, who came back to draw 3-3 at Technique Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In a thrilling encounter, Rovers led by two early on thanks to strikes from Maria Edwards and Saffron Jordan, before two Katie Wilkinson penalties, either side of Jade Richards’ header, saw Rovers lead 3-2 at the break.

A late equaliser from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk levelled the match, but a serious injury to Sheffield’s Ellie Wilson marred what was a highly eventful contest up until that point. 

Gemma Donnelly’s side would have gone level on points with the Blades if they had emerged victorious and made one change from the draw against Durham as Ellie Fletcher was replaced by Aimee Hodgson.

And Rovers went in front inside 20 seconds when Elise Hughes’ shot deflected into the path of Edwards, who clinically found the net, scoring her first goal for the Club in the process.

Within six minutes it was two for the visitors. Richards acrobatically flicked a corner back into the box and skipper Jordan bravely put her body on the line to bundle the ball past Fran Kitching, taking a blow for her troubles.

At the other end, United tried to respond when Jade Pennock fired over from range and Mel Johnson’s effort was comfortably saved by Alex Brooks.

But the captain’s second goal of the season had the visitors in control until Wilkinson’s shot was adjudged to have hit an arm in the area and referee Lucy Oliver pointed to the spot.

November’s Championship Player of the Month Brooks – who had not conceded a league goal up to that point - guessed the right way but couldn’t keep out Katie Wilkinson’s penalty, which was fired into the bottom corner.

Richards, assister of Rovers’ second, got her own name on the scoresheet to re-establish a two-goal lead on 37 minutes, providing a headed finish to Natasha Fenton’s cross.

But the Blades were awarded a second penalty and another chance to half the deficit when Emma Doyle was penalised for a foul on Wilkinson. Again the United No.9 stepped up and converted the spot-kick.

Into the second half, a brilliant save from Brooks denied Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, just 10 minutes after the forward came on as a half-time substitute.

Sweetman-Kirk was soon in the thick of the action again, but this time Kayleigh McDonald made a superb sliding tackle to prevent her getting a shot away.

Then it was Rovers’ turn to go close, with Jordan’s low effort skidding agonisingly wide of the post.

However, United equalised when Keri Matthews crossed for former Liverpool striker Sweetman-Kirk, who finally got a goal on 82 minutes.

The Blues were looking to go back in front and missed an opportunity to win the game late on. Substitute Georgia Walters raced onto a through goal but sent her curling shot the wrong side of the post with just Kitching to beat.

There was then a lengthy stoppage in play at the end of normal time due to a serious injury to Sheffield’s Wilson, who was stretchered off.

When the game resumed, both sides were understandably unable to return to their rhythm and shared the points.

Rovers are back at home and on the FA Player again on Sunday 20 December, hosting Leicester City at Bamber Bridge (2pm kick-off).

ROVERS: Brooks, Jukes, McDonald, Richards, Newsham (Fletcher 53), Fenton, Doyle, Hodgson (Walters 81), Hughes, Edwards (Johnson 53), Jordan (c).

Unused subs: Dean, Boydell, Stewart.

Goals: Edwards 1', Jordan 6', Richards 37'.

HT: 2-3

Referee: Lucy Oliver

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