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Kick off 13:00 (UK)

18 October 2020 Venue Technique Stadium Attendance

Kick off 13:00 (UK)

Sheffield United
0 - 0

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Match Previews

Johnson reflects on Blades debut

17 October 2020

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United women defender Nat Johnson described making her Blades debut last weekend as a "very nice feeling" after picking up an injury in pre-season which curtailed the start of her time at the club.

Johnson, signed from Leicester City in the summer, has been out with an arm injury but played the final 10 minutes of the team's 3-0 win at Coventry United, and she's delighted to be back in action after being forced to watch from the stands.

"It had been a long time coming after an unfortunate injury in pre-season. I've been working hard to get back and been enjoying watching the girls so far and it's nice now to be a part of it. Pandemic included, it's been a ridiculously long time. Getting back on the pitch was the best feeling.

"With COVID-19 and the new protocols and all things considered, my time at Sheffield United has been brilliant so far. I've settled straight in. The girls are great, the club is great and despite my broken arm I've just been happy to be a part of it so far and see what a great start to the season our team has had."

Less than 90 seconds into a pre-season friendly away at FA Women's Super League side Manchester City, Johnson came off worse in a challenge with a City player, and her start to life as a Blade was already halted ahead of a rehabilitation process.

"Against Man City in pre-season I managed to break my arm. I got that fixed but had my arm in a cast for about six weeks and obviously had to strengthen that up again before I could play. But I've been running and training and working hard and building up to this moment."

Johnson has watched along from the sidelines as United have made another strong start to the season, going unbeaten and picking up 10 points from 12 in the FA Women's Championship so far this season.

The defender believes that despite dropping points in the final minutes at home to her former club, her and her team mates couldn't have wished for a better start to the campaign.

"I've been so happy, so impressed with the girls. I don't think you could ask for much more. Redders has come in and I think the girls have bought into everything he's saying and I think it shows on the pitch."

The Blades are back at home at Chesterfield's Technique Stadium on Sunday as Neil Redfearn's side face Lewes, who have won three games in a row without conceding.

With more tough tests to come against Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Durham immediately after next week's international break, Johnson is hoping the team's good start to the season can push them through what will be both a tough and important period of the season.

"I think the momentum is important because every game is a must win game. Every team is competing, there's no easy games this season, so that momentum is hopefully going to help carry us through what is going to be a tough couple of weeks."

Off the pitch, Johnson's job as a "trainee biomedical scientist" has been heavily affected by the current pandemic, but she admits it has been rewarding to know she and her colleagues have been able to help so many people away from the pitch.

"At the moment I work full-time in a hospital laboratory, testing patient samples, including COVID-19. Because I'm a trainee, I go to University one day a week in the hope that in a year I will be a full biomedical scientist.

"It has been crazy. Initially, we stopped all private work and became a fully NHS hospital. We were COVID safe, so we were taking patients who needed to be protected from COVID.

"It has been quite daunting, it's hard to say it hasn't been in the current environment and all the changes. The changes in the way you work and the way you live. I really enjoy my job, I enjoy the fact that at the end of the day we're helping patients get really important results and important treatment."

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Match Reports

Sheffield United 0-0 Lewes - report

18 October 2020

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United women were held at home by a spirited Lewes team who managed to deny the Blades from scoring for the first time this season.

While it ensured a third clean sheet in a row for Neil Redfearn's side, chances came and went on what become a frustrating afternoon at the Technique Stadium.

Up against a tough Lewes defence, United had to resort to long distance efforts as they looked for a breakthrough, Rhema Lord-Mears seeing an effort go over and another saved, before Jade Pennock saw a shot deflected wide.

After the break, the Blades stepped it up a gear but could never find the crucial breakthrough. Pennock saw a stinging volley well pushed over in what was one of United's better chances, before substitute Courtney Sweetman-Kirk saw a header go wide and a shot from the edge of the box blocked.

Mel Johnson was also thwarted as she too saw an effort well blocked from inside the box, before Pennock saw another effort go into the side-netting and Maddy Cusack fired a shot from distance which dropped just over the bar.

It was one of those days for Blades as Veatriki Sarri saw a low effort go agonisingly past the post and Katie Wilkinson saw a good attempt pushed away, and despite a lot of late pressure and balls into the box, the Lewes defence stood firm to frustrate the Blades and earn themselves a point.

Redfearn: "We played well enough and we created enough chances to win two or three games. We have to give Lewes some credit because they defended well, they do what they do. It's about as well as we've moved the ball about and having a good shape to us, but we couldn't get anyone a good enough sight of goal. We had a few flash wide and a few blocked, but sometimes this happens. Lewes's results and performances have shown this, they've been very good defensively, they're good at it.

From our point of view, we've got to find a way to break them down and we didn't. We're disappointed because we want to win but I'm not disappointed with the way the team applied themselves. There's a long way to go, teams are going to take points off each other this season, we're still unbeaten and we have a game in hand on some, so we're in a good position."

Blades: Kitching, Little, Hartley, Lipka, Pennock, Cusack, Wilkinson, Dixon, Lord-Mears (Sweetman-Kirk 61), Sarri, M. Johnson.
Unused: Flaherty, Paul, Matthews, Coan, Watson, Walton, A. Johnson, Chance.

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