It was a tough start to the season for the Lionesses as their first competitive game, under recently appointed Head Coach Lisa Fallon, saw them concede a 1-4 defeat to Sheffield United.
Neil Redfearn’s Blade ran-out winners as two goals each from Jade Pennock and Katie Wilkinson gave them control for the final half an hour despite Freda Ayisi’s equaliser for the Lionesses, early in the second half.
Pivotal Points In The Match
The start of the game was tight, but it was Sheffield who took the lead shortly before half-time when Pennock slotted home with her left foot moments after Wilkinson hit the post.
The Lionesses struck back just after half time. An intercepted thrown-in and move down the left
wing connected to Ejupi, who picked out the pass that gave Ayisi the opportunity to curl the ball into the far corner. They could have then taken the lead if not for Chloe Dixon’s valiant block on Kallie Balfour.
Sheffield capitalised on defensive error leaving Pennock to tap home from close range.
Moments later Wilkinson headed home Pennock’s cross before being brought down in the box, taking her second from the penalty spot.
Head Coach Reactions
Lisa Fallon said, “We had some really good spells in the game but just need that bit more consistency.
At 1-1 we were very much in it and could have got ahead but the two goals in two minutes was a turning point.
Sheffield United are a very good team with real fire power and they were clinical with their chances. But we are a young, developing team and will grow from this.”
Sheffield United head coach Neil Redfearn said, “We were excellent against a decent opponent.
They gave us problems at times but we were resolute and I thought it was a really good away performance.
We really got on the front foot after they equalised, it was a great reaction and superb in the end. I was really pleased with the unsung roles in the team too.
I thought Naomi Hartley was excellent playing in midfield and our two centre-backs were great, Ellie Wilson was outstanding on her debut and Fran [Kitching] made a couple of really good saves and deserved a clean sheet.
I was always aware of what [Katie] Wilkinson and [Jade] Pennock could do from seeing them last season and really they’ve just picked up the mantle. That understanding they have is there for everyone to see.
You can only beat what’s in front of you and I think we’ve beaten a really decent side. It was a good game of football, both sides played their part and
in the end it’s an excellent result for us.”
Speaking after the game SETL Player of the Match, Lionesses #16 Harley Bennet, said, “We started a little bit slow and let them get into the game too much. We got a goal back but we needed to play our game a little bit more.
We nearly scored to go 2-1 up but they countered us and scored themselves. After that they got another goal and a penalty, and it just took us too long to settle.
I think we just need to start sharper. Play our game, be more attacking and get on the ball a lot more next week.”
London City Lionesses (4-3-3): Shae Yanez; Grace Neville, Hannah Short, Ylenia Priest, Leanne Cowan; Alli Murphy, Freda Ayisi, Lucy Fitzgerald; Elizabeta Ejupi, Kallie Balfour, Harley Bennet
Substitutes: Poppy Wilson for Murphy 60, Juliette Kemppi for Fitzgerald 60, Flo Fyfe for Short 67, Lily Agg for Ayisi 67, Annie Rossiter for Ejupi 85
Substitutes not used: Chantelle Mackie, Lily Pursey, Lucy Thomas, Ellie Mason
Goals: Ayisi 49
Bookings: Priest 37
Sheffield United (4-3-3): Fran Kitching; Chloe Dixon, Leandra Little, Ellie Wilson, Veatriki Sarri; Naomi Hartley, Kasia Lipka, Rhema Lord-Mears; Jade Pennock, Katie Wilkinson, Mel Johnson
Substitutes: Ali Johnson for Johnson 57, Sophie Walton for Lord-Mears 65, Keri Matthews for Pennock 81
Substitutes not used: Emily Batty, Lucy Watson, Charley Docherty
Goals: Pennock 36, 56, Wilkinson 58, 64
Bookings: Pennock 34, Hartley 44, Dixon 45
Referee: Sarah Garratt
Photos courtesy of Edward Payne (@edwardp10)