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Pennock targets cup run

18 October 2019

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Sheffield United Women are back in Continental Cup action with a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday night.

It's the team's second trip to Villa this season and the fifth visit since the start of last season, Carla Ward's side winning the first two encounters but coming out on the wrong side of the result in the last three.

The first game last August in last season's Continental Cup marked the club's first game since gaining a licence for the new FA Women's Championship and now the two teams sit in the top two positions of the league just over a year on.

Part of United's success and a run of 12 wins in 13 has been thanks to the superb form of winger Jade Pennock who now has 12 goals in her last 11 games ahead of the trip to Boldmere St Michaels this weekend.

Pennock, signed from Doncaster Rovers Belles, bagged her first Blades hat-trick last weekend against Crystal Palace and Pennock was delighted to find the back of the net three times.

"It was amazing to score three but we didn't start that game the way we wanted to, we could have started a little bit quicker and it took us a while in the first half to get going.

"Going into this weekend, the players think highly of each other and the way we're playing at the moment is just a reflection of the work we're putting in during training. We're behind each other going into games and we've got threats all over and that's amazing really."

Pennock's form in particular has been superb in 2019, but with Katie Wilkinson, Olivia Fergusson, Maddy Cusack, Aimee Palmer and Veatriki Sarri all having found the net more than once already this season, there's plenty of players chipping in just six games into the new season to prove Pennock's point.

After only finding the net twice in her first 20 games for the club, it makes her form over the last 11 games all the more remarkable, but Pennock puts it down to hard work and a bit more confidence in her own ability.

"I've probably got more confidence in myself and I feel like I'm a confidence player. I play better when I'm confident but obviously I've got to know the girls more, I trust them and whether it's the 1st minute or the 90th minute one of them will find me and the chances are I'll score!"

Pennock's goals against Crystal Palace backed up her faith in her own team mates. With all three assisted by United's midfield trio of Cusack, Palmer and Sam Tierney, creativity is coming from all areas of the field but the importance of the midfield three is certainly helping bring the best out of the likes of the 26-year-old.

"It's hard to score if you're not getting the ball! I trust them and I just know if I'm in the right position they'll find me. Playing with the other forwards now too, we're getting to know each other better. Wilko especially I'm linking up well with, she holds the ball up so well and I feel I can play off that at the moment."

Pennock started up front when the team visited Villa for the first time last August and played in all four of the meetings between the two last season, but missed this season's opening day defeat to injury.

With United already sitting three points clear of Villa in the Continental Cup group standings having beaten FA WSL side Liverpool, Saturday presents an opportunity for Ward's side to really put themselves in a strong position heading into the final three group games.

"These are the games you want to play. These are the most competitive games. It's a cup game, we've got nothing to lose and right now we're flying and it's a game we think we can win.

"It was frustrating to miss the first game. I don't like to sit out any game but that one especially with it being the first game of the season and such a big game, I'm ready to be back now and playing against Villa this weekend."

With United facing predominantly Championship opposition in this year's group compared to last season when they were paired with FA WSL trio Manchester City, Birmingham City and Bristol City, Pennock says her and her team mates now sense a real opportunity at a good cup run this season.

"Before we even played a game we thought we had a realistic chance at getting out of the group this season. Beating Liverpool has put us in a good position and we're positive within the team we can get the results to get out of the group."


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