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Wilkinson praises Blades performance

29 September 2020

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Katie Wilkinson believes the hard-working nature of the United Women team shone through on Sunday as Neil Redfearn's side continued their good start to the FA Women's Championship season with a 4-0 win at home to London Bees.

Wilkinson herself scored twice to add to her two goals on the opening day at London City Lionesses, taking her to four goals in just three games this season and an impressive overall record of 24 goals in just 24 games as a Blade.

But despite a convincing score line come full-time, United were made to work for the win and didn't open the scoring until the 43rd minute after a below-par first half performance.

It could have been different though with Bees goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill making several saves before Mel Johnson opened the scoring, and Wilkinson says it was testament to the team that they still went into the break with a lead.

"They made us work hard for it first half and we were a bit lucky just before half-time, but it shows the character of this team, even when you're not playing well you have to work hard and get at them, we did that."

With a lead to build on, the Blades added two in quick succession after the break, Wilkinson setting up Johnson's second before opening her account for the day when she turned home Jade Pennock's cross.

The league's golden boot winner last season finished things off with another neat finish late on and admits changes had to be made at the break.

"The gaffer got into us at half-time, we come out, bang three goals in and get a clean sheet too which is important.

"We weren't good enough first half. The tempo wasn't good enough and that's just the standards we expect from ourselves and the staff. We expected better of ourselves and in the second half we turned it around really well."

Wilkinson's two goals along with a second brace in succession for Johnson mean both have four goals and an assist to their name after just three games, while Pennock also has two goals after her brace against London City Lionesses, plus an assist for Wilkinson's first on Sunday.

It means all 10 goals United scored in their opening month of the campaign came from a front three who already appeared to have clicked since Johnson arrived in the summer from Aston Villa.

"We all want each other to do well and I think that's important. We all respect each other, we're a team and it doesn't matter who gets on the scoresheet, over the season we'll all be scoring and assisting, the biggest thing is three points."

Wilkinson and her team mates now face a busy period which will see them take on three away games in the space of a week.

The Blades go to Charlton Athletic this Sunday looking for another league win, before opening their Continental Cup account for the season away at last season's champions Aston Villa in midweek.

A busy week ends with a trip to Coventry United next weekend where the Blades won 5-0 last season, but Redfearn's options are getting stronger all the time, and the timing couldn't be better.

Maddy Cusack made her first appearance of the season against the Bees, while new signing Olivia Chance came off the bench for her United debut at half-time.

Alethea Paul was also available after missing the opening games of the season, while goalkeeper Becky Flaherty played 90 minutes for the development side on Sunday as she also steps up her return from a long-term injury.

It leaves Redfearn with plenty of depth moving into the next few weeks and Wilkinson believes there is quality flowing throughout the squad.

"I thought Liv did really well when she came on, Sophie Walton and Vea Sarri too, and it was great to have Maddy back.

"We're making subs that change the team and it shows what a great group we've got. It makes you feel confident, you can take a quality player off and bring someone on who is equally as good."

Extended highlights and the full match replay of United's 4-0 win against London Bees are both available to watch on the FA Player.

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