Sheffield United Women 3 Lewes 2 – Goal for debut girl Izzy Ford drives Blades to hard-fought victory 

Izzy Ford of Sheffield United scores the first goal of the game during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield.  Harry Marshall/Sportimage
Izzy Ford of Sheffield United scores the first goal of the game during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Sheffield United returned to winning ways but had to do it the hard way after an enthralling encounter against Lewes.

The hosts took the lead on three separate occasions through Izzy Ford’s first goal on her first start, Sophie Barker and finally Sophie Jones but the visitors hit back twice through an Ellie Gilliatt own goal and Rebecca Carter.

Jade Pennock of Sheffield United battles with Charley Boswell of Lewes during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield.  Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Jade Pennock of Sheffield United battles with Charley Boswell of Lewes during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Making her first start for the club at just 16, Ford curled home from the edge of the box to put United in front after 17 minutes.

Faye Baker was kept busy in goal, saving most prominently from Jade Pennock’s effort as the Blades controlled the opening 25 minutes.

But Lewes soon responded and hit back when Gilliatt deflected Vicky Carleton’s cross beyond her own goalkeeper.

Kate McIntyre hit the bar from a free-kick almost instantly after the equaliser and both sides went in at the break thinking they could have been in front.

Ellie Gilliat of Sheffield United during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield.  Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Ellie Gilliat of Sheffield United during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

A slow start to the second period was broken when Gilliatt stormed forward and hit the post with a stinging effort, the ball eventually finding Barker who neatly found the corner from the edge of the Lewes box.

But the visitors fought back once more when Carter looked to have sealed a point for Lewes, a curling effort from the edge beating the out-stretched Alex Brooks.

United though wouldn’t be denied a third win in four games. A free-kick into the box found Jones and her looping header bounced down off the crossbar and in to seal the three points for United.

Sheffield United player, Sophie Barker said: "It was a tough game and it was pretty end-to-end. Last week we couldn’t even find one goal so for us to get three today and keep going ahead showed our resilience, we just kept at it and we didn’t take our foot off the pedal.

Sheffield United players celebrate their third goal of the game during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield.  Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Sheffield United players celebrate their third goal of the game during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

"I’d quite happily take the three points over a performance. You can work on these things at training but you can’t work on getting the three points. Back-to-back defeats would have been a nightmare and the performance might have been scrappy but I’m happy with the three points.

On her goal, Barker said: “People who know me know I love doing the outside of the boot shot in training so it was definitely that, never a toe poke.” 

And there was praise for Ford, for her goal in the teenager’s first start for United.

"Izzy did really well today,” added Barker. “You wouldn’t have even noticed it was her first start or she was that young. She’s more than good enough to be here and she took her chance today."

Veatriki Sarri of Sheffield United battles with Rebecca Thompson-Agbro of Lewes during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield.  Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Veatriki Sarri of Sheffield United battles with Rebecca Thompson-Agbro of Lewes during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Next up for Sheffield United is Millwall away and boss Ward is expecting a reaction from the opposition, who lost 8-0 to Manchester United on Sunday. 

"I’ve just seen their result against Manchester United and I’m sure they’ll want to come out against us next week and put a few things right,” said Ward.

"They’re coming off the back of a few heavy defeats and eventually they’re going to react. They’re a young side but we’re going to go there and have to be better than we were today no matter what.

"We’re ambitious, the club’s ambitious and I’m ambitious so we’ll be expecting to go down there, put in a performance and get three points."

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Veatriki Sarri of Sheffield United battles with Samantha Quayle of Lewes during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Veatriki Sarri of Sheffield United battles with Samantha Quayle of Lewes during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Carla Ward manager of Sheffield United shakes hands with the match officials during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage

Carla Ward manager of Sheffield United shakes hands with the match officials during the FA Women's Championship match at the Olympic Legacy Park Stadium, Sheffield. Harry Marshall/Sportimage