Aston Villa Women 3 Sheffield United Women 1: Tears flow after 'worst performance of the season' from Blades
Boss Carla Ward revealed some Sheffield United Women players were left in tears by their below par performance at Aston Villa in the Continental Tyres Cup.
Goals from skipper Jade Richards, Emily Syme and Shania Hayles put Villa out of reach before Jade Pennock’s consolation for United in the group stage battle of the Championship’s top two sides.
Ward labelled the performance as her side's worst of the season so far but has pledged to ensure the squad learn from the defeat.
“I thought we were poor,” Ward said. “But we’ve been outstanding this season. I think that’s possibly our worst performance and we know it collectively.
“It’s about learning from that – and we will probably learn more about ourselves individually and collectively from a game like that today than from the games we’ve been winning.
“We’ve got to try to spin it into a positive and make sure it doesn’t happen again because that performance wasn’t acceptable and we know that.
“Some of the girls were in tears, they were devastated because it’s now what we expect and it’s not the standards they set or we set.
“We’re a team that demand a lot from each other so we’re not happy no matter how we lose or who we lose against, Villa are a good side, we know that, but we weren’t at the races.
“It’s taken us probably 60-70 minutes to get into the game and you can’t leave it that late and expect to get anything from the game.”
Villa threatened first on 18 minutes as Kerri Welsh’s first-time shot from Hayles’ cross forced a fine save from Emily Batty and left-back Veatriki Sarri denied Syme a tap-in from the rebound.
United’s reprieve lasted only a minute as a spell of aerial pinball from a corner ended with Richards looping a fine header over Batty from around 12 yards.
Within three minutes, Villa doubled their lead as 19-year-old Syme outpaced the Blades’ defence to race clear and coolly round Batty before slotting into the empty net.
Villa sealed victory eight minutes into the second half as Hayles produced a classy finish on the turn into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Nadine Hanssen steered wide a golden chance to make it 4-0 before Pennock pulled one back for the Blades, netting the rebound after Daniela Kosinska foiled her initial shot.
United – who saw a five-game winning streak ended – could have had a second deep into stoppage time as Richards was sent off for bringing down Pennock but Kosinska superbly saved Sarri’s penalty.
Villa: Kosinska; Franklin, Haigh, Richards, Ale (Greengrass 80); Ewers, Hanssen; Haywood (Hutton 65), Syme (West 75), Hayles; Welsh. Subs not used: N’Dow, Warner, Follis, Johnson.
United: Batty; Dixon, Hartley, Tierney, Sarri; Palmer, Barker; Fergusson (Cusack 53), Pennock, Paul (Matthews 53), Wilkinson (Johnson 65). Subs not used: Flaherty, Clarke.
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