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Match Reports

United Ladies 2-2 Sporting Khalsa - report

6 November 2017

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After a weekend off, United returned back to third spot in the league with a hard-earned point after an very entertaining game against Sporting Khalsa.

Having beaten Khalsa away in Wolverhampton in September and 12 points further up the table, United were the pre-match favourites for this one. Rested and refreshed United returned to their 3-5-2 formation and welcomed back Rosa Neary and Jodie Hartley to the starting XI. Both teams observed a minute's silence ahead of Remembrance Sunday prior to kick-off.

Khalsa started the brighter and United had to defend very deep at times with 'keeper Jess Houldsworth the busier of the two. Having weathered the early pressure United grew stronger as the half wore on. Right wing-back Sophie Bell was particularly effective with creating chances and put in another non-stop performance all game.

United had two great chances to break the deadlock, first Nat Shaw (the October Player of the Month) went for placement inside the six-yard box but her left foot shot went just the wrong side of the upright. Then Millie Kenyon had sight of goal in the box but hit her shot over.

When United did score it was from pressure applied on the visitors defence as Khalsa were playing out from the back and resulted in Hartley sliding in to score her first goal of the season, this after 31 minutes play. United had the better of the remaining time, only briefly troubled when Neary had to clear her lines, going in 1-0 at half time.

The second half was a great advertisement for the womens game with plenty of skill and commitment shown from both sides. United had the more possession but Khalsa were always a threat on the break. Shaw nearly crafted a superb goal, twisting and turning her way through the Khalsa defence only to be denied by the 'keeper.

Ten minutes into the half Khalsa were awarded a penalty for a handball against Jen Pearson when she couldn't get out of the way of a shot. This was duly dispatched for 1-1. Khalsa then enjoyed a good spell and nearly went ahead when a forward lobbed the out-rushing Houldsworth but luckily for United the ball dropped wide. Six minutes on from their first goal, Khalsa went ahead when a striker was left unmarked to give Houldsworth no chance with her finish.

This left United stunned and the prompt for a double substitution with Tania Marsden joining the attack and on for her United debut, Hollie Barker, down the right flank, Bell moving to the left. Marsden made an immediate impact lashing home a half volley from a corner after 63 minutes to make it 2-2.

Both sides were giving everything in search of a potential winner as dusk fell. United had a succession of free-kicks and corners but the Khalsa defence repelled them. United had one scare but Houldsworth again made a fine low save. Right at the end Kim Brown's header found the Khaslsa net only to be ruled out by the assistant referee's flag for offside. Despite their best efforts United couldn't find a winner and this entertaining game ended all square.

Manager Dan O'Hearne reflected: "A below par performance from us, though we dominated parts of the game which we can take heart from. Nevertheless it is two points dropped in my opinion and we need to start putting teams to bed long before they threaten our goal if we are to be successful moving forwards."

United: Houldsworth, Marshall, Neary, Froggatt, Bell (Robinson), Spurr, Hartley, Pearson (Marsden), Kenyon (Barker), Brown, Shaw.

Next Sunday United are back in SSE Womens FA Cup action and travel to play Newcastle United in the first round proper.


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