United enjoyed a controlled and comfortable win in their maiden game in the FA Premier League Cup on Sunday.
Manager Dan O'Hearne recalled last week's three substitutes, Kim Brown, Amy Beanland and Millie Kenyon, to the starting XI whilst retaining his preferred 3-5-2 formation.
The new players continue to gel effectively and United now have the best squad they've enjoyed for some years. The visitors, Birmingham and West Midlands, had a former United player, Laura Parsons, in goal and as it turned out she would be the busier of the two 'keepers.
United took the lead after only nine minutes having already stretched the visitors down the flanks. Brown's low cross from the left was met by Kenyon to steer the ball in and set United on their way. Nat Froggatt came up for a corner and her powerful header skimmed off the visitors crossbar as the Blades enjoyed the best of the chances.
Birmingham's best chance came when one of their forwards had a clear sight at goal in the box but Jess Houldsworth closed her down and thereafter United gave the Midlanders little chance to score. United's attacking returnee Nat Shaw dropped deep to collect the ball and her burst goalwards drew the defenders and she was able to lay off Brown in space to finish for 2-0 after 40 minutes.
United never looked back, though, the game was halted for some time effectively causing the half-time break with an injury to Birmingham's Jay Mapp. Modern first aid protocol was observed and an ambulance crew attended to the stricken player. It's understood her foot injury isn't as bad as first feared and United Ladies wish her a speedy recovery.
After this enforced break of around 40 minutes the game kicked back off for the second half with the visitors down to 10 players. United made full advantage of the extra player, though, they had already enjoyed superior possession beforehand.
Mollie Cawthorn and Tania Marsden both had early shots but it was Shaw on the end of a set up by Kenyon to put the game beyond any doubt for 3-0 after 64 minutes. That was her first United goal since returning having scored 10 goals back in 2006/07. Shaw made it 4-0 on 76 minutes and sub Jen Pearson 5-0 five minutes later, again a finish from inside the box as the United attackers enjoyed time to tee up their finish against an over worked defence.
United had the luxury of deploying three fresh legged substitutes against the 10 and kept the pressure on right until the end. They included a debut for 16-year old Eve Marshall, one of several talented home grown players coming through the ranks. Marsden had a goal ruled offside and Sophie Bell smashed a shot against a post as United showed their professional side to be still ruthless against beleaguered opposition. Shaw completed the rout with the sixth and her hat-trick in the last minute of normal time.
Blades: Houldsworth, Cawthorn (Marshall), Neary, Froggatt (Bell), Robinson, Hartley (Pearson), Beanland, Brown, Kenyon, Marsden, Shaw.