Blackburn Ladies 2 Sheffield United 0 - Blades off to a losing start in FA Women’s Championship after ‘criminal’ second half display

Sheffield United Women’s boss Neil Redfearn was left to rue a poor second half performance as the Blades opened up the new FA Women’s Championship season with a defeat.

Monday, 30th August 2021, 4:20 pm
Courtney Sweetman-Kirk missed an opportunity to put Sheffield United ahead before the Blades Women eventually lost to Blackburn

Chloe Dixon and Aimee Hodgson’s second-half goals propelled Blackburn to a 2-0 victory with both strikes coming after the break following a dominant display in the opening period by Redfearn’s side.

United saw two good chances come and go inside the first 10 minutes as both Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Ocean Rolandsen saw close range efforts blocked, while Lucy Watson saw an effort from the edge of the box well saved.Maddy Cusack saw a corner hit the crossbar before debutant Tara Bourne forced Alex Brooks into a good save with a strike from distance.

The Blades were denied just before half-time when Sweetman-Kirk saw an effort disallowed for offside.

The game swung in the hosts’ favour after the break and Rovers missed a big chance to go ahead when Saffron Jordan fired wide from close range, but ten minutes later they did take the lead when former Blade Dixon slammed home.Ten minutes later it was 2-0 when substitute Hodgson found the corner after some hesitant United defending, enough to put the game beyond the visitors and register an opening day win for Gemma Donnelly’s side.And Redfearn was disappointed by the application of his side in the second half, which he described as ‘criminal’.

“We didn’t come out second half. I thought first half we dominated it, we were the better side, we were good in possession, didn’t take our chances and weren’t clinical enough.“Second half we came out and I thought Blackburn upped their game. They competed better than us, which is criminal, and then got the goal and it’s an uphill battle from there. You’re looking for a reaction but I thought we looked a little bit flat after that, which is not like us.“The goal gave them a lift, without a doubt, and gave them an edge. We’re better than that usually when it comes to responding to going behind, but that’s football, it happens, we’ve got to pick ourselves up and we’ve got to go again. It’s going to be the nature of the division this season, a lot of teams are going to beat one another.“I’m really pleased with the first half, we dominated the ball and we just needed a little bit more with the chances we created. There were some real plusses throughout the first half, I thought Kasia Lipka was excellent the whole game. It’s a young forward line, it will take time but there’s unbelievable talent there.“I have to give credit to Blackburn, they defended well, dug in and then second half we just seemed to lose our way, lost our momentum and that’s not like us.”

Blackburn boss Donnelly admitted she was surprised that her team had gone in at half time all-square.

She said: “I'm really pleased. I thought first half we were pretty fortunate not to go behind in all honesty. We moved a couple of things around at half-time and it was so much better in the second half and we got our reward for it.“We know Sheffield United are notoriously difficult, so we're really pleased."