It was a surprising off day on Sunday for United's Ladies, losing 3-0 to Barnsley LFC in the County Cup semi-final.
This was only United's third loss of the season in 26 games and manager Dan O'Hearne summed up: "A disappointing day at the office, we never got going and it was probably our poorest performance of the season. It was our heaviest defeat so far and the first game we have failed to score in a game this season."
The two teams have met many times before and often had close games. The two sides are also perfectly matched in the league pyramid with United currently second in the East Midlands League and Barnsley second in the North-East equivalent.
The first half had very few goalscoring chances to report. United were slow to get things moving whilst coping with Barnsley`s movements. Other than a blocked volley from United striker Tania Marsden the Blades had their best chance of scoring all game come after 30 minutes when cup top-scorer Kim Brown was put through on a one-on-one only to have her shot saved. It was a blow for United when Brown had to be withdrawn at the break due to illness.
So, as predicted, a tight game between two evenly matched sides, except as the second half wore on it was Barnsley who looked the progressively more dangerous side. Goalkeeper Kirsty Johnson was probably United's player of the match with safe handling and good domination of her box. As Barnsley pressed Johnson saved shots from Sanderson, Findlay and, closest yet, defender Jodie Hartley blocked a goalbound shot with her head and Johnson tipped the follow up onto a post.
With 71 minutes played came five minutes of madness. Findlay fired Barnsley ahead after a move down the right for 1-0. This was quickly followed by a second by Findlay, taking the ball round the exposed 'keeper for 2-0. Worse still three minutes later when United were uncharacteristically exposed again, Woodruff dribbled through to kill the game off at 3-0.
United rallied in the closing phase but it was too little too late, Jen Pearson forcing the Barnsley 'keeper to tip her free-kick over the bar as the Bladettes forced a few corners in search of a way back.
It was disappointment this time for United who had for the first time this season played well below par. Manager O`Hearne was already looking ahead to this sunday`s vital league clash at Bedworth and expecting a quick return to United`s winning form that has got them so far this season.
Blades: Johnson, Hartley, Cawthorn, Froggatt (Celi), Hopkinson, Bell, Spurr, Ruddach (Carroll), Brown (Smith), Marsden, Pearson.