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Sam Tierney aiming for a strong end to the season

8 February 2020

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Sheffield United Women midfielder Sam Tierney is expecting another "difficult" test when Carla Ward's Blades go to Charlton Athletic on Sunday.

It is the team's first league match in three weeks after last week's game against Crystal Palace was postponed, with the Blades looking for a win to keep up the pressure on leaders Aston Villa who travel to second-place Durham.

Aside from the two defeats to Villa, Charlton are the only other team to take points off the Blades this season after a 2-2 draw in October, but Tierney says the team have to treat the encounter like any other.

"We've had some battles with them," said the midfielder, who will be hoping to return to the team after three games out. "Last season away from home was tough, we threw the game away and lost 2-0 and this season was the same, we were our own downfall.

"Credit to Charlton though because they took advantage of us being sloppy and to be fair they do play well, they can go direct but they make it difficult and we found it hard to break them down. We'll just attack it like we do any other game."

Charlton currently sit bottom of the FA Women's Championship with games in hand and are yet to win a game, but have drawn six of their 11 matches so far, after losing star attacking duo Elizabeta Ejupi and Kit Graham in the summer.

The Blades need to keep winning to take the promotion fight to the end of the season, and Tierney says the team have to keep meeting their own standards and show they can remain consistent until the end of the season, despite defeat to Villa last month setting the team's promotion challenge back a step.

"It's out of our hands now. It's been difficult because we know we're capable and on the day it wasn't our day. We have to look at our standards and keep doing that. Be more clinical, put teams to bed, show we can do that and that it wasn't just a start of season thing. That's what all the girls will look for now, seven games left, finish it with the standards we've set ourselves.

"We have a lot of players in the changing room with very high standards, myself being one of them. We probably do forget about the fact this team has only been together 18 months but when you look at the players here, we know we're capable of being up there."

Tierney missed the majority of what turned out to be a tough month for the Blades, losing three home games in a row against Villa and FA WSL opposition in Manchester City and Birmingham City.

The Blades though gave a good account of themselves against both teams and convincingly beat Coventry United 5-0 in the league, with Tierney missing the last three games through concussion, something she admits came at a frustrating time for her.

"It was really difficult to deal with," she admits. "I've had concussion in the past and like most footballers you get taught about it and now there's more and more being discussed about it. The weird thing for me was I didn't get symptoms until the day after.

"I had to take a more mature stance on my health and it was heart breaking because it was such a big month. I'd sat down with Wardy before the second half of the season and talked about how much I was looking forward to so many big games in January and I felt like I'd been playing consistently. Unfortunately, like everything in life, things don't come at the right time but I took a mature decision to put my health first."

Maturing as a whole is something Tierney thinks she's done since the team's last visit to Charlton which resulted in the 21-year-old being sent off in the second half of a 2-0 defeat.

Since then, Tierney has been one of the team's most consistent performers and believes focusing on what she can control has helped her improve her output on the pitch.

"Last season for me I had a lot to balance. My biggest thing was I have such a passion to play and win and I got frustrated if we weren't getting enough out of games or not reaching our potential. We speak a lot now about officiating too and at times I felt some decisions were going against us in games.

"I've definitely become more mature about things now. I've had more of a focus on me and controlling what I can control, you can't control the uncontrollable. I think it's all come from focusing on myself, that drive I have and setting an example to other players so touch wood that won't happen again!"

Sheffield United Women face Charlton Athletic at VCD Athletic, Oakwood, at 2pm on Sunday 9th February.

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