United dipped back into League Cup action on Sunday with what proved to be another professional and fairly comfortable win in this quarter-final tie against Northampton Town LFC.
United are certainly in top form at the moment and carried the form from their four previous league games (27 scored without reply) into this one. Spirited Northampton Town, third in Division One South, did cause United some tense moments and could have gone in at the break level. Thereafter United moved up into top gear and secured passage into the semis.
After a fairly cautious opening phase, United began to get some joy down the right flank through Sophie Bell. It was her cross that found left-winger Shannon Smith arriving at the far post to head United ahead after 17 minutes.
United made most of the play and had several shots, Jen Pearson hit the crossbar at one point and Smith's overhead kick from the rebound was blocked by a defender. Rachel Ruddach made a welcome return to the team and fired a shot into the top corner of Northampton's net to put United 2-0 up after 31 minutes. It could have been three when Jorden Spurr hit a post shortly after.
The final minutes of the half saw Northampton's best spell making United work hard for their lead. Cobblers' Emma Dunmore raced into the United box to fire home a goal that brought them back into the game at 2-1 on 42 minutes and there was another good chance.
As the second half got under way United started playing their slick passing game to better effect and were able to restore the advantage expected of a side from a league higher. Spurr had a speculative free-kick tipped up and over from distance as the gusting wind at that end of the pitch now became even more of a factor.
Kim Brown had already had a shot pounced upon but Northampton's keeper had little chance with Brown's next effort, a typical 30-yard dipping shot to put United 3-1 ahead after 57 minutes. That was her 12th cup goal of the season and 21st in all.
United were soon cruising and were able to deploy experienced substitutes Christina Skull and Tania Marsden on to keep the pressure on. United added a fourth after 76 minutes when right-back Jodie Hartley popped up in the box to shoot home, followed five minutes later by Skull's headed goal from a corner kick. Number six came a minute later when the two substitutes combined, Skull's low shot was touched in by Marsden.
Still relentless to the end, United rounded a fine performance off with a seventh goal two minutes into injury time when Pearson set Marsden up to finish with good technique.
Blades: Johnson, Hartley, Cawthorn, Froggatt, Hopkinson (Wainwright), Bell, Ruddach (Skull), Spurr, Pearson, Smith (Marsden), Brown.