SHEFFIELD  United 3 - 0 Coventry united

Wilkinson at the double in emphatic Sheffield United win

Sheffield United recorded their first win of the year with a comfortable 3-0 success over Coventry United. 

A first Blades goal for Naomi Hartley was followed up by a double from top scorer Katie Wilkinson at the very end of either half, but United also hit the woodwork three times and Wilkinson saw a penalty well-saved. 

Neil Redfearn’s side were on top throughout and looked to have the perfect chance to open the scoring after 20 minutes when a defender was judged to have handled Sweetman-Kirk’s shot, but Sue Wood got a leg to Wilkinson’s penalty. 

Rather than be rattled by that miss, Sheffield United kept pressing and were rewarded for their efforts with Hartley’s opener on 32 minutes.

They continued to threaten and Sweetman-Kirk rattled the bar with a header, before Wilkinson added a second goal in first half stoppage time, heading home another Rayner corner. 

The Blades went close to several more goals after the break, with Hartley almost netting again with a looping header which came back off the bar, while Coventry saw a big chance go begging at the other end as Shannon O’Brien just could not divert home an Amber Hughes cross. 

Wilkinson hit the bar herself late on with a powerful effort, but had the final say as she slotted home with the last kick of the game after good work from Rhema Lord-Mears. 

Sheffield United spent much of the game on the front foot, but they had to wait until the half-hour mark to break the deadlock.

They did so through Hartley, scoring her first senior goal. A corner from Bex Rayner was steered home by the defender, and having taken the lead, the home side never looked back.

Coventry United manager Jay Bradford said: “It was a bit of a nothing game really, especially second half. It was very transitional, neither team really got hold of it and we’ve been undone by a couple of set-pieces. 

“I think we can do better with those, they’re disappointing. If your player scores, you have to take some responsibility for that. I don’t think it’s an issue, Sheffield United have some strong players in the air but maybe we need to be a bit more organised and a bit more keen to put our heads where it’s going to hurt. 

“We had a few chances but very close doesn’t win you matches. We have to take them. Half chances need to become chances and chances need to become goals quickly.” 

Sheffield United (4-3-3): Fran Kitching; Ocean Rolandsen, Naomi Hartley, Leandra Little, Nat Johnson; Kasia Lipka, Maddy Cusack, Rhema Lord-Mears; Bex Rayner, Katie Wilkinson, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk 

Substitutes: Keri Matthews for Rayner 66, Lucy Watson for Sweetman-Kirk 66 

Substitutes not used: Becky Flaherty, Emily Batty, Tamara Wilcock, Charley Docherty 

Goals: Hartley 32, Wilkinson 45 & 90 

Coventry United (4-4-1-1): Sue Wood; Hayley Crackle, Nikki Miles, Anna Wilcox, Ashlee Brown; Amber Hughes, Fran Orthoxodou, Alice Hassall, Beth Merrick; Becky Anderson; Shannon O’Brien 

Substitutes: Georgia Stevens for Hassall 46, Holly Chandler for Brown 70, Helen Dermody for Hughes 86, Amy Wathan for Merrick 90 

Substitutes not used: Olivia Clark, Jenna Roberts 

Bookings: Wilcox 76 

Referee: Amy Barber 

Last Update: 17/01/2021 - Alan Mohomed