United's fine run of nine games unbeaten came to an end on Sunday afternoon when they were well beaten by a good Liverpool Feds side in the FA Premier Women's League Cup.
United's players had a collective off-day and looked somewhat tired compared to the opponents after what's been a tough week with a 120-minute game at the Lane followed by a hard-fought Sheffield derby on Tuesday evening. Excuses aside, Liverpool thoroughly deserved their win and looked the best team United have played so far this season.
The Bladettes made three changes to the side that started at Steel City, with recalls for Jorden Spurr and Jodie Hartley to the centre of midfield plus Millie Kenyon on the left in a 4-4-1-1 formation. Feds are currently fourth in the parallel Premier Northern Division One. United themselves fourth in the Midlands Division One.
Feds gifted United a soft goal after just four minutes when an innocuous cross into the box from Evie Robinson on the left was inadvertently deflected into an open net by a defender, with her goalkeeper having come out behind her to collect it.
At the other end Jess Houldsworth made an excellent low save to keep the lead intact as United more or less restricted Feds to few chances in the first half. United had some good chances tho to extend their lead, Millie Kenyon was set up by Nat Shaw but her 'goal' ruled our offside. Jen Pearson, playing just behind Shaw in the formation, had a good volley fielded by the Feds goalkeeper after a floated free-kick had initially been cleared. Pearson also had a header saved from a Sophie Bell cross as was the rebound shot by Hartley.
At the end of the half Feds could have equalised from a corner when one of their forwards made an overhead kick which was bravely blocked by the player marking her, Jodie Hartley, with her face! One-nil at the break for United.
Soon after the restart Feds had the ball in United's net only for that also to be disallowed for offside. United found themselves increasingly defending deeper as Feds enjoyed good spells of possession. The visitors headed just over at a corner and United 'keeper Houldsworth was generally kept busy.
Around the mid-point of the half United had their best spell to increase their lead. Shaw was put through and fired just over whilst under pressure from a defender. Shaw then had the best chance of all when she was setup for a shot only to fire wide, unusual for the inform player on 11 goals for the season.
United were soon regretting missed chances for the goal that had been threatening for so long came soon after. A guided finish from substitute Laura Bartup over Houldsworth made it 1-1 with 68 minutes on the clock. From that point United looked second best and started to fade.
Bartup hit the sidenetting having rounded the 'keeper and another shot fizzed over the bar as the visitors pressed for a winner. Houldsworth pushed another fierce shot over her bar but the winner was almost inevitable and came from a throw in, Bartup again, the ball flicked home to send Feds through after 86 minutes.
So a below par performance and something of a shock after such a fine run unbeaten. The Ladies should be back firing on all cylinders this Sunday against The New Saints.
Blades: Houldsworth, Brown (Marshall), Froggatt, Neary, Robinson, Bell, Hartley, Spurr, Kenyon, Pearson, Shaw (Cawthorn).