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Becky Flaherty reflects on her first Blades clean sheet

29 November 2019

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Sheffield United Women goalkeeper Becky Flaherty says her and her team mates have to take things one game at a time as they prepare for another big game this weekend away at London City Lionesses.

Four wins out of four in November have put the Blades second in the FA Women's Championship table, one point ahead of this weekend's opponents, while also putting them top of their Continental Cup group with a game to go.

With Carla Ward's side grinding out three big wins in seven days against tough opposition in Lewes and a double-header against Durham, Flaherty knows the team have to keep building momentum.

"We've had a few big games recently but when you're looking to win the league, every game is a big game," she said.

"We're just looking to take things one game at a time. This game is against a team sitting in third just behind us so we definitely have to be on it this weekend with the aim of getting the three points."

Against Lewes two weeks ago, the Blades held onto a 2-1 lead in the dying minutes, with Ward praising her side's ability to control the game under pressure.

In last weekend's league game at home to Durham, United once again fought for a result despite coming under big pressure from their opponents, with Aimee Palmer's stunner ten minutes from time settling the tie.

After no clean sheets all season, the Blades put together two solid performances in four days to keep two clean sheets against Durham, with Flaherty making several important saves last Sunday to put the team in a position to take the points.

"Em did very well against Durham midweek and she earned her clean sheet so full credit to her. I was so happy to follow that up with my first clean sheet of the season. It's been a while but I'm happy it's finally come around. It was a tough game and Durham are a hard team to play against so to get a clean sheet in a game like that meant a lot to us as a unit at the back."

The Blades number one also believes it shows a different side to the team and a mentality of doing whatever it takes to win.

After winning games 5-1 and 7-1 earlier in the season, United have now had to work hard for their last few results when not always hitting peak performance levels and have shown a different side to them in order to earn the wins.

"We've shown that we can win ugly and in some games we didn't play pretty football at all, but if we can get the wins in those big games when we haven't been playing well then it shows what we are as a team, that we can find new ways to win. It shows the mentality of this team that we'll do anything to win."

Flaherty though can count herself a little unlucky to have had to wait until the end of November for a clean sheet.

In games against Leicester City, Coventry United and Lewes, superb goals from outside the box were the only strikes to beat the Northern Ireland international.

"That's been our luck a little bit. You look at some of the goals we've conceded and they're very, very good goals but we knew we had to tighten things up a bit and we're managing to do that now."

Flaherty's first clean sheet for United comes hot off the heels of her first for Northern Ireland. The goalkeeper only made her debut in a friendly earlier this year, before making her competitive debut earlier this month against Norway.

"It was an unbelievable experience playing in front of 7,000 people. It was a mad way to make my debut to be honest, against some of the best players and one of the best teams in the world but it's what you aspire to play against every week."

Northern Ireland lost 6-0 but just days later Flaherty was in goal again when her side hosted Wales, and despite taking a nasty boot to the face early on which threatened to prematurely end her game, Flaherty picked herself up to make a number of big saves to help her side take a point in a 0-0 draw.

"Making my home debut against Wales was unbelievable and to keep a clean sheet just topped it off. It shows far how we've come as a country, we're there to be taken seriously, a lot of people overlooked us in the last few years but it's time to start pushing on and I think people will start taking us seriously now."

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