In one of the most important and gripping games of the season United came out on top against league leaders Mansfield.
United considered this a top-of-the-table match even though the Blades actually sat fourth going into the game. This was by virtue of having only played four league games due to being in three cups whilst the free-scoring Stags had played eight league games and led with 22 points.
The game was highly entertaining and both sides played with great commitment. United again playing their best football in the first half and then battling in the second as they did at the recent Rise Park and Chester-le-Street games.
United got off to a great start taking the lead after nine minutes when Annalise Carroll found herself with time to tee up her right-foot shot in the box and fire the ball passed the 'keeper. United settled into their rhythm, playing some fine short passing play on the floor and one such move made goal number two after 19 minutes. Sophie Bell made one of her runs down the right to the byline and her cross was met by Jen Pearson, who headed it superbly back across the goal and into the net.
Two pieces of clinical finishing had given United the advantage against a side that was every bit as lively and committed. It was almost a perfect first half but on 43 minutes the Stags got a goal back when a corner wasn't cleared and Emma Day gave United goalkeeeper Kirsty Johnson little chance. That set up the tense second half.
Both teams were giving everything they had and as the tension started to mount up both 'keepers got away with heart-in-mouth moments.
Mansfield were beginning to push United back as the half wore on and shaded possession. United needed to restore the two-goal cushion and on 78 minutes a special goal did just that. Jen Pearson who had set up the first, scored the second, then set up Kim Brown, who hit a perfect looping shot from outside of the box just inside the post to make it 3-1.
Mansfield had to throw everything at United and the home girls were responding with terrific a workrate to counter. With 88 minutes played Stags reduced he deficit with a goal from Monica Bowley.
There was some injury time to negotiate after United skipper Rosa Neary had clashed heads whilst bravely heading away a dangerous cross. The experienced trio of Neary, Ruddach and Spurr, in particular, had led by example all night in putting their bodies on the line to try and secure the win. The last few minutes were tense as the clock ticked down and then delight for all concerned at United when the final whistle blew.
Credit to Mansfield for contributing so much to game that was a great advert for the East Midlands League.
Blades: Johnson, Hartley, Neary, Cawthorn, Hopkinson, Bell, Spurr, Ruddach (Smith), Pearson (Celi), Brown, Carroll.