Katie Wilkinson his hat-trick for Sheffield United Women
Striker Katie Wilkinson was buzzing after scoring her first senior hat-trick to help Sheffield United Women to win 4-1 at Leicester City.
The Blades, who kept the pressure on Championship leaders Aston Villa with a 4-1 victory at Leicester City, also saw Aimee Palmer on target for a well-deserved win in a game they controlled throughout.
Wilkinson said: “First and foremost, it’s about the three points for the team because that’s what we came here to do. For me personally, to score my first senior hat-trick, I’m buzzing with that!
“I think there’s been three or four occasions this season I’ve had two goals and Carla (Carla Ward, manager) has been disappointed I haven’t come in with a hat-trick, so it’s great to now have been able to do that.
“I always knew coming here we’d do well as a team and it’s great to be fighting for top spot heading into Christmas and to be scoring the goals we are as a team.
“We knew we had to win our one on one battles and not let them get on top of us because we know they’ve got some physical players. It was about taking our chances and being clinical – and we did that.”
Keeping up their tradition of quick starts, Wilkinson knocked United 1-0 up inside five minutes when she latched on to Sophie Barker’s ball over the top and slid the ball past the on-rushing Demi Lambourne.
United looked good for their lead as they threatened to open Leicester up again and they made it two after 24 minutes. After a sustained attack, Palmer lifted an effort over Lambourne from the edge of the box to double the advantage.
Jade Pennock dragged an effort wide before the game turned again when Paige Bayley-Gayle ran through and lobbed a delightful effort over Becky Flaherty to pull a goal back for the home side.
United responded instantly though and Wilkinson grabbed her second within minutes when she cut inside her marker, her left-footed effort evading the grasps of Lambourne and trickling across the line.
Lambourne picked herself up to deny both Wilkinson and Barker before the break ahead of a more tepid second half.
Neither side really troubled the respective goalkeepers as the clock ticked down, but there was time for another and a first Blades hat-trick for Wilkinson as she stooped to head home Pennock’s dinked cross into the box.
Leicester manager Jonathan Morgan said: “Sheffield United did the job in the first half. They were 3-1 up at half-time and able to manage the game a lot better in the second half.
“We were disappointed with how we conceded the goals in the first half.
“It all started from our press, we didn’t get it right and they were overloading us, so that’s disappointing because that’s a mentality and workrate kind of thing rather than talent.”
Sheffield United (4-3-3): Becky Flaherty; Sophie Barker, Naomi Hartley, Sam Tierney, Alethea Paul (Keri Matthews, 76mins); Kasia Lipka ( Veatriki Sarri, 46mins), Aimee Palmer, Maddy Cusack; Jade Pennock, Katie Wilkinson, Olivia Fergusson. Substitutes not used: Emily Batty, Izzy Ford.
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