United's creditable 17-league game unbeaten run came to an end on Sunday with the trip to newly-crowned champions, Loughborough Foxes. The Blades acknowledged the new champions prior to kick-off with the now traditional 'guard of honour'.
The Foxes themselves went into the game on a similar unbeaten run of 20 games, stretching back into last season, the two teams having drawn in Sheffield in August.
The Foxes had the slightly better of the opening phase before United settled down and matched them in a close first half. Nat Shaw was a constant threat and crossed to the far post just too high for Jen Pearson to take advantage. Millie Kenyon had a low shot saved and at the end of the half Shaw had a clear sight of goal but drove just over.
At the other end Jess Houldsworth had fielded a few early shots but was comfortable up to late on when forced to come out on one occasion and then saw a good chance guided badly wide by a Foxes striker. So it was even in every way going in at the break.
The second half, though, would slowly slip away from United with the Foxes restricting the visitors to just two shots on target all half, from Shaw and Pearson, both saved. The Foxes defence had only conceded six league goals all season and once they had taken the lead through Young on the hour at a corner, United would have to be on top form to salvage the game.
It wasn't to be as United chased the game the Foxes' direct counter attacks caused more problems. Going 2-0 up on 72 minutes Young again with a chip over the United 'keeper Houldsworth, who also had to save three one-on-ones aswell. The Foxes made it 3-0 near the end with a lob by Cooper and the score, whilst maybe not reflecting possession, did reflect on the clear chances created.
United stay second thanks to third place TNS losing 3-2 at Burton, who themselves have joined the now three-way battle for that runners-up spot with just a point between them with three games to go. United will be wanting to get back to winning ways quickly after dropping seven points from the last nine with a trip to 10th place Birmingham and West Midlands LFC on Sunday.
Blades: Houldsworth, Brown, Froggatt (Neary), Marshall, Barker, Bell, Hartley, Spurr (Hickerman), Kenyon (Stevens), Pearson, Shaw.