United Ladies eased through their County Cup tie against Totley-based Socrates with a 7-1 home win last Sunday.
The visitors play in the third tier at County level so are five promotions below United but gave a good account of themselves and the County league as a whole in a very well-mannered game.
The competition is popular with many clubs for unlike the staggered womens' FA Cup, the County Cup pitches teams of such different levels together from the start. However, for United the County Cup isnt high on the team's priorities and with one-eye on Wednesday evening's crucial league game at home to Mansfield Town, Manager Dan O'Hearne made five changes to the starting XI that started the FA Cup tie a week previously. Jen Pearson made a welcome return to the team at the heart of an attack-minded 3-5-2 formation.
It was a curious game for nearly all the goals came in the first half. Understandably given the gulf in leagues it was one-way traffic for most of the half. United took the lead after 11 minutes when Annalise Carroll tapped in a rebound from Sophie Bell's shot. But spirited defending kept United at bay thereafter until the 27th minute when suddenly the class finally showed and United hit five in a rich 15-minute spell. Molly Cawthorn broke from the back and fired a tremendous 30-yard shot that dipped over the 'keeper for number two and for one of the goals of the season. Melissa Celi made it 3-0 when she flicked home a corner from Paige Wainwright.
Carroll added her second from a set up by Celi for number four, Wainwright scored her first of the season from just outside of the box with a low drive for 5-0. The scoring spree was completed by Pearson having been set up by a cross from Bell.
Leading 6-0 at the break, United were camped in the Socrates half in the second half, but the home side were spirited in their defending in front of goalkeeper Ellah Williams.
On the hour Socrates were rewarded for their efforts with a goal from Beth Miller, but with five minutes to go United added a seventh through Jen Pearson.
United Manager O'Hearne summed up afterwards: "The County Cup tie was an ideal opportunity to the players who have been on the fringes so far this season. We totally dominated possession and ran out comfortable winners but credit goes to our lower league opponents who never gave up. The highlight was a strike from ex-England U17 centre-back Molly Cawthorn, scoring her first goal for the new look Blades."
Blades: Johnson, Hartley (Ruddach), Cawthorn (Spurr), Wainwright, Bell (Brown), Hickerman, Pearson, Hall, Smith, Celi, Carroll.