Friendships to be put aside Sheffield United Women meet Blackburn Rovers Ladies

Friendships will be put to one side this weekend when Sheffield United Women meet Blackburn Rovers Ladies in the final league match of the season.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 4:34 pm

The Blades will conclude the 2020-2021 Women’s Championship campaign in Lancashire on Sunday with fourth spot secured at a minimum.

Their former number one, Becky Flaherty, who left the club last week to pursue first-team football, will be in goal for eighth-placed Rovers after she joined them until the end of the season to cover injuries.

Leicester-based Sheffield United defender Nat Johnson is good friends with her fellow Northern Ireland international and sometimes stayed with her in Sheffield.

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Nat Johnson of Sheffield United.

She said: “Becky just needed to be playing. For goalkeepers it’s so hard to get back in the squad.

"It’s been hard for her this season."

Flaherty was first choice last season but suffered multiple injuries and lost her place.

On the prospect of coming up against her old team mates so soon after leaving, the 23-year-old said: “Because I’ve just left them it will be strange because I know what they’re about and a lot of my good friends are still playing there.

“So, it will be weird playing against them, but for me individually, if I play, I’m just going to do the best I can do for Blackburn and put in the best performance I can.”

United’s chances of finishing third were dealt a big blow last weekend when they were beaten 1-0 by Liverpool, who leapfrogged them to go three points ahead in the table.

"It’s been a few days but it’s still pretty raw,” said 27-year-old Johnson.

"We were really, really gutted not to get anything out of the game because we deserved it.

"Third place was something that we all did really want. There’s still a game to go so hopefully we catch up."

Katie Wilkinson and Jade Pennock both missed penalties for Sheffield United during the match, while goalkeeper Fran Kitching saved a Liverpool spot kick at the other end.

The Reds play London City Lionesses in sixth place in their final game, having beaten them in the reverse fixture.

United drew 3-3 with Blackburn when they last met in December.