United's Ladies enjoyed an emphatic home win over local rivals Rotherham United with Nat Shaw and Millie Kenyon both registering hat-tricks.
The Blades made two changes to the team that beat Birmingham and West Midlands a week earlier with Jodie Hartley and Kenyon starting. A not quite fully fit Hollie Barker was only a late substitute with the big game against Radcliffe in mind.
Rotherham are undergoing a period of rebuilding and have improved since that 11-0 defeat at home to United back in September. However, this game proved equally one-sided almost from the start.
Having repelled United's early corners Rotherham gifted Shaw the opener with a defensive mix-up from a short goal kick after 13 minutes. Her strike partner Tania Marsden had one 'goal' disallowed for offside and a minute later hit a Rotherham post with Kenyon smashing the rebound in for 2-0.
United made it 3-0 on 20 minutes with a 'pinball' goal, Rotherham's defence blocking shots from first Kenyon then Marsden but not Shaw's. With United in total control Sophie Bell was set up by Hartley for number four after 26 minutes and that's how it stayed into the break.
In the second half Rotherham's over-worked defence cleared Rosa Neary's header off the line from one of the many corners forced but were soon breached again. A Bell cross was headed in for number five by Kenyon after 52 minutes and a minute later Hartley beautifully placed her shot into the top corner from the edge of the box for 6-0. Shaw then completed her hat-trick with a rare header after 67 minutes and ten minutes later Kenyon completed her hat-trick with a well-placed left-foot shot for 8-0.
With United able to deploy three fresh substitutes the pressure was maintained to the end, bombarding the visitors goal and both of their 'keepers that were used made good saves at times. With two minutes to go Marsden's hard work was rewarded when she got her goal from another header from a rebounded save. Substitute Amy Beanland completed the victory a minute later with a low shot into the far corner of Rotherham's net.
Interim manager Carla Ward summed up: "Delighted to be scoring as many as we are but the most pleasing thing was how the girls adapted the game plan to break them down. At half time we changed the formation and game plan and the way they executed it was superb. They played with freedom and I couldn't fault any of them.".
The win extends United's unbeaten run in the league to 13 games with 25 goals scored in the last four helping United to the best goal difference in the division. The Blades are still third but now only three points behind leaders Loughborough Foxes, though they and TNS in second have a game or two in hand. This Sunday United are at home again, this time to fourth place Radcliffe Olympic.
Blades: Houldsworth, Robinson (Barker), Neary, Marshall, Bell (Beanland), Brown, Hartley, Pearson (Froggatt), Kenyon, Shaw, Marsden.