Sheffield United Women celebrate scoring against Blackburn Rovers - Photo by The FA

Blades keep the heat on in promotion race with victory over Blackburn Rovers

Sheffield United have kept the pressure on promotion rivals Aston Villa and Durham in the FA Women’s Championship with a routine 5-1 victory over struggling Blackburn Rovers at The Proact Stadium in Chesterfield.

Jade Pennock netted twice while there were also goals for Katie Wilkinson, Mollie Green and substitute Rhema Lord-Mears as Carla Ward’s side saw off a Rovers side who were made to play the second half with 10 players following the dismissal of defender Kayleigh McDonald for dissent.

Despite being below the hosts in the FA Women’s Championship table, Blackburn Rovers started well and Natasha Fenton could have given her side the lead after profiting from some sloppy Sheffield United play but she could only drill her shot wide across goal.

Rovers were made to rue that missed opportunity when Sheffield United opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Pennock ran onto the ball on the left before firing her low effort beyond Blackburn Rovers keeper Fran Stenson into the far corner of the net.

The Blades were 2-0 up five minutes later when Veatriki Sarri cleverly created space to shoot. Her effort was blocked but Pennock was there to rifle the loose ball home.

Stenson was then alert to push a dangerous Green delivery wide before the visitors reduced the arrears when Natasha Flint struck a wonderful effort from 30 yards into the bottom corner of the net.

There was controversy on the stroke of half-time when the referee produced a red card. Maddy Cusack’s shot went aimlessly wide, however, moments later, a red card was brandished in the direction of Rovers defender McDonald with the player thought to have shown dissent towards the referee.

Sheffield United naturally pushed on early in the second half and Green saw an effort cannon off the post before Stenson superbly denied both Olivia Fergusson and Wilkinson.

Blackburn Rovers remained a threat and some great control from Flint allowed her to get a shot away but her venomous effort landed in the stand before Stenson was again at full-stretch as she pushed a Sarri shot behind.

Two quick-fire goals just before the hour mark made sure of the three points for Sheffield United. First, Wilkinson struck from 12 yards before Green was given time and space to pick out the bottom corner and make it 4-1.

Pennock then missed a good chance to claim her hat-trick when she hit an effort wide of the far post before Flint went close for the visitors at the other end.

Wilkinson sent two efforts narrowly over the bar as Sheffield United searched for more goals while Pennock wasted another chance for the match ball as she fired over from 10 yards.

Two substitutes combined for The Blades as they netted their fifth goal with seven minutes remaining. Keri Mathews’s shot stumped the post but Lord-Mears was there to bundle the loose ball home, scoring against her former club.

Despite conceding five goals, visiting keeper Stenson had an impressive afternoon and she tipped a Lord-Mears effort to safety in the closing minutes of the match to prevent the scoreline from being greater while Sam Tierney blazed an effort high and wide at the death.

Sheffield United are back in action next Sunday when Crystal Palace are the visitors to The Proact Stadium while Blackburn Rovers will take on bottom club Charlton Athletic in Bamber Bridge.

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