United Ladies first team ended the 2016 calendar year back at Swallownest with the unusual scenario of facing their own second team in this County Cup tie.
After going two goals ahead, a spirited rearguard revival by the future first team hopefuls made United's seniors work hard for their passage into the next round. However, for the second week running any joy of victory was again tempered by another serious injury to a key player.
United's Development team are having a very good season in the second tier at county level, some three promotions below the first team and were undefeated going into the game. As for United's first, they have only lost once in 17 games but were missing six players due to injuries or illness.
The firsts were soon pressuring and led by experienced centre-forward Tania Marsden, who was a threat throughout the game. It was midfield schemer Jen Pearson who put United ahead after 14 minutes with a 25-yard dipping shot. Marsden made it 2-0 five minutes later, lashing in a powerful shot which again Development 'keeper Abbie Timson had little chance with.
To their credit, the Development girls dug in and after 32 minutes Kelsey Hallam put Katie Flanagan through on goal to pull a goal back. Shortly before the break the sight nobody wanted to see. Kim Brown, hero of the Bramall Lane game being carried off injured. She'd landed awkwardly after getting a shot off and jarred her knee badly. This was later diagnosed as a torn medial ligament and like Rosa Neary the previous week, will be sidelined for some time.
The firsts continued to pressure and Timson was by far the busier of the two 'keepers having made a good low save to deny Pearson a second just before the break. It was against the general run of play when seven minutes into the restart Development centre forward Charlotte Cork hit a high speculative shot that dropped in to give the second team an unexpected equaliser.
The next half an hour was an entertaining and well-contested game, the firsts doing just enough to repel the spirited attacks. Pearson and Sophie Bell kept United's midfield moving well and they were still making the better chances.
With extra time looming it was Marsden who would have the final say. She'd put in a tremendous and at times punishing shift and when Bell's shot in the last minute of normal time was parried it was Marsden on hand to knock home the winner.
United then wound the clock down in injury time to take the 3-2 win after a good game that was a credit to all in the United open-age.
United Ladies, unlike their male counterparts, have a mid-season break now until play resumes on 8th January with the next round of the Women's FA Cup away to Derby County.
United: Johnson, Hopkinson, Cawthorn, Wainwright, Smith, Hartley, Hall, Pearson, Brown (Darbyshire), Bell, Marsden.