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Kick off 19:30 (UK)

07 October 2020 Venue Banks Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:30 (UK)

Aston Villa
1 - 0
Sheffield United

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Match Previews

Pennock taking the positives into Coventry

10 October 2020

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Jade Pennock believes United women can take plenty of positives from Wednesday's narrow 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Continental Cup.

A first half penalty from Jodie Hutton was all that separated the two sides despite Villa now being in the tier above, while United themselves had chances to get something out of the game.

It was just United's fourth defeat in 32 games in all competitions, but Pennock was pleased with the team's overall efforts.

"I was really pleased with our performance as a team and as a group. I thought we battled for the whole 90 minutes and it just shows the class we've got in the squad that we were able to compete with a top tier team for 90 minutes. The only thing that split us was a penalty, so that's a positive but also disappointing it was such a small margin which meant they won."

Wednesday night also marked Pennock's 50th appearance as a Blade after joining the club after United gained a licence for the FA Women's Championship back in August.

Having only missed two of the team's 52 games to date, Pennock has been a mainstay in the side, scoring 26 goals and assisting 14 others, seeing her become one of the team's key players over the past couple of years.

"Obviously, it's a very proud moment for me, as the saying goes time really does fly when you're having fun, I can't believe it was my 50th appearance! The result was unfortunately disappointing but the way us as a team battled for 90 minutes again makes me so proud to be part of this team.

"I do wish my family were there to celebrate the milestone as they have followed me throughout my whole football career. We do have such a great fan base too and really can't wait to welcome our supporters back to the games soon."

Her stats mean Pennock is both the club's top scorer since coming into the second tier as well as having the most assists of anyone too.

Initially spending time playing at right-back during her first season at the club, Pennock admits she didn't expect to have the stats she does but intends to fulfil her aim of earning promotion to the FA WSL with the club.

"I didn't expect to come in and be that player, but the help I've had along the way has helped me gain confidence and grow into the player I am now. Obviously, I hope to carry on doing that. When I came into the club, I had hopes of getting promoted with the club and I hope that dream comes true this season."

Attention for Pennock and the rest of the squad now turns to Sunday's return to league action against Coventry United.

After topping the table come the end of September, Neil Redfearn's side slipped off the top due to a postponement at Charlton Athletic last week, but Sunday will offer an opportunity to get back to winning ways.

Despite a 5-1 and a 5-0 win over the same opposition last season, Pennock is taking nothing for granted and knows everyone will have to continue their good form to get a result.

"I think every game will be a tough one. I don't think there's any game we go into thinking it's going to be an easy game. Coventry have had some good results so far this season, so it's not a game we can take lightly. We have to focus on our game and what we do best and that will help us to push on and hopefully win the game."

While the team's last visit to the Butts Park Arena ended in a comfortable 5-0 victory back in January, with Pennock scoring twice, the team had to be patient and were being held at 0-0 until deep into the first half.

It was a similar story last time out against London Bees before cruising to a 4-0 victory, and Pennock believes the team is getting better all the time at being patient and wearing down their opponents.

"It's almost a compliment I suppose that teams are having to sit in and try and keep it close for as long as possible. I think we are more patient now than we have been in the past, we've got quality all over the pitch and when we're ready to go forward and press for a goal, once we get one more should follow."

The game will mark the end of a busy week and with another three-game week coming up after the October international break, the matches are coming thick and fast with the Continental Cup now under way.

After a seven-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, like everyone, Pennock is just delighted to be back out on the pitch playing regularly again.

"It was great to get back in after lockdown and for any player to be playing regularly is what they want to do. To play three games in a week is a great, to be on this run now is great, it's just been good to be back on the pitch."

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Match Reports

Aston Villa 1-0 United Women - report

7 October 2020

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United women fell to a narrow defeat against FA Women's Super League side Aston Villa in the Continental Cup, with only a penalty just before half-time separating the sides.

Head coach Neil Redfearn gave a full debut to Olivia Chane, while Courtney Sweetman-Kirk made her debut from the bench, with Becky Flaherty and Nat Johnson also returning to the squad.

The Blades started well and more than matched last season's FA Women's Championship winners, but couldn't find an end product on a night where half chances came and went.

Former Villa striker Mel Johnson tested Lisa Weiss early on, before the goalkeeper had to be alert to push behind a fierce effort from Veatriki Sarri.

The hosts did grow into the game but their chance to open the scoring came just as United were putting together a sustained spell of pressure.

Ellie Wilson was adjudged to have fouled Jodie Hutton in the box, the Villa winger stepping up herself to score what would be the decider.

Fran Kitching did well to deny Villa a second in first half stoppage time and the Blades came out fighting again after the break.

Maddy Cusack saw an effort from distance saved before Johnson just couldn't g­et on the end of Katie Wilkinson's cross into the box.

It looked like the Blades had got the equaliser their efforts deserved, but Jade Pennock's strike in the 90th minute was disallowed despite no obvious foul on Weiss from a United player.

Either way, Redfearn was pleased with his side's efforts against FA WSL opposition.

"I thought we played really well. I thought the penalty we got given against us was a bit dubious and then a goal disallowed at the end where I think it's their player who nudges into the keeper before Jade puts it in.

"We can count ourselves unfortunate. We had the share of possession, played some really good stuff and at times were dominant. We defended really well but sometimes it goes that way, 1-0 either way, but we did enough to get a result out of it.

Blades: Kitching, Wilson, Little, Hartley, Lipka (Walton 71), Pennock, Cusack, Wilkinson, Sarri, Chance (Sweetman-Kirk), M. Johnson (Lord-Mears 82).
Unused: Flaherty, N. Johnson, Paul, Dixon, Matthews, Coan.

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