Sheffield's Young Charges Go Out Of Development League Cup
A semi-final place proved a step too far for Sheffield FC Ladies' Development team as they succumbed 3-0 to a dogged Birmingham City at Coleshill Town FC.
Following this season's earlier league meeting between the two sides, which saw a 2-1 victory for Sheffield, the promise of a highly competitive game had been on the cards, and no-one was short changed on a bitterly cold afternoon in the Midlands, both teams knowing what was at stake in the game.
Both teams raced out of the blocks, Birmingham City the sharper in their early possession, but matched by the solidarity of Sheffield's back three to keep any chances to a minimum.
As the half grew older, Club found its feet and half chances started to fall at both ends. Birmingham won a number of headers from successive corners without breaching the Sheffield goal, whilst the visitors tested the opposite no.1 low down.
The key moment of the first half came on 35 minutes when the Blues' quick passing found a rare gap in Sheffield's back line, leaving the goal at the mercy of Birmingham striker Freda Ayisi, but for an exceptional save by Liz Hobson.
A half-time reshuffle of the pack brought a change in momentum after the interval. From the onset of the second half, Sheffield had the bit between their teeth, with three aggressive attacks formed in the opening two minutes.
A period of confusion followed for the hosts who uncharacteristically gave away cheap possession under the Sheffield onslaught. Efforts from Georgia Wilson, Kenedy Owen and Shannon Durkin built up from play on both sides, caused Birmingham's stopper issues, but still it remained 0-0.
A mixture of injury and illness had left the visitors very light on the day, and it started to show in a five minute spell in the second half. Tired legs and heads left a rare gap that Birmingham were able to punish when a ball down the right was drilled to the back post with Heidi Logan able to turn and finish neatly.
Just moments later it was two. Sheffield had pushed on sensing a chance to retaliate, but City broke and the ball fell to Shania Hayles on the edge of the box and she struck it low and hard for 2-0.
This could have been enough to kill of the spirits of most teams, but not Sheffield FC Development. Led by skipper-for-the-day Owen and with the experience of Holly Housley, Sheffield found some reserve fuel and went again.
A couple of half chances fell to the visitors before the ball was played neatly into Willson who held off her defend well, and as she turned to get her shot off, the hand of Birmingham's centre back pulled her to the ground, yet the referee remained emotionless - no penalty.
Some excellent play from Likara, Cashin and Tinsley at the back allowed the rest to push on for a way back in but nothing fell to the visitors, and in the final minute of the tie, Hayles bagged a second with a neat finish, putting City in the hat for the semi-finals.
Sheffield FC: Hobson, Wheeler (Morrow 77), Cashin, Likara, Housley, Tinsley, Hawcroft, Owen (c), Clarke, Durkin, Willson