Sheffield United Women: Blades beaten despite battling second-half display against Lewes

Sheffield United were beaten 3-1 by Lewes at the Technique Stadium, as the visitors remained above Neil Redfearn’s side in the FA Women’s Championship table.
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United fell behind to an Ini Umotong header before a stunning strike from Paula Howells doubled Lewes’ lead at the break.

The hosts created the better chances in the second half, but Simon Parker’s team stretched their advantage through Lucy Ashworth-Clifford before Alethea Paul’s late consolation.

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"If we’d started the game like we did the second-half, we might have got something from it,” Redfearn said. “But we never got going in the first, and the goals were poor. We made it easy for Lewes then.

"We had to change it and I thought the changes worked. By and large, we were much better then.”

Earlier, United were almost handed the opener by Lewes ‘keeper Shanell Salgado whose attempted clearance rebounded off Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and dribbled just wide.

With half an hour gone, Lewes took the lead through Umotong who connected sweetly with a cross from Ashworth-Clifford to head Lewes in front.

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Lewes then seized control with three minutes of the half to go, Howells sweeping home from the edge of the box after Umotong set the Seasiders up with a run from the halfway line.

United made the more promising start to the second half, with Sweetman-Kirk and substitutes Paul and Bex Rayner all forcing Salgado into saves.

But it was Lewes who pounced again, Ashworth-Clifford moving the game further out of sight as United rued their failure to convert the openings they had engineered.

Paul got a consolation five minutes from time, moments after forcing a fine save from Salgado. But her effort, which capped an impressive individual display after being brought on, was not enough to force a comeback as Lewes travelled back to the south coast with all three points.

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Sweetman-Kirk also went close during added time, when her volley nested on the roof of the net.

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Sheffield United: Kitching, Newsham, Bradley-Auckland (Capt), Bourne (Ronaldsen 46), Robert, Lipka, Cusack, Walton (Paul 46), Sweetman-Kirk, Watson, Clarke (Rayner 25). Not used: Wilson, Enderby, Wilcock, Taylor, Docherty.