”This is a clear message to the FA…” says Sheffield United manager

Following their second consecutive defeat on home soil, Sheffield United manager Carla Ward wasn’t shy in expressing her anger towards the refereeing decisions, which saw her side come out on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller. 

United welcomed Charlton Athletic to the Olympic Legacy Park, and laid the pressure on early against their promotion-chasing opponents. With, forward Ebony Salmon snatching at an early volley on her first start for the club.

Although, Ward’s side dominated the ball in the opening minutes, a lack of goal scoring chances proved costly, as the Addicks opened the scoring in the 25th minute. A controversial cross from Amber Stobbs, which appeared to bend over the line for a goal kick before entering the six-yard box, was tucked home by Charlton’s Kit Graham.


Sheffield United Women warm-up at the Olympic Legacy Stadium

Early into the second half Graham rued missing an emphatic chance for the visitors, heading the ball over an open net, following a neat skill move to take the ball around Nikki Davies. However, moments later Lily Agg scored from close-range, coming after another debatable refereeing decision.

There was a response from the Blades, as Bex Rayner got the final touch on a tantalising corner-kick from Veatriki Sarri to restore them back into the game. Unfortunately, with just over 10 minutes to go, United were hit unexpectedly as Charley Clifford scored an incredible free kick from distance to make it 3-1.

Even more controversy was set to hit Legacy Park. Firstly, United were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute when Captain Ellie Gilliatt was fouled, with the resulting spot-kick smashed home by Salmon.

Six minutes into stoppage time, Salmon herself was chopped down in the penalty area, but the referee signalled for a corner despite no clear touch of the ball from the defender. This proved to be the last action of the fixture, ensuring a frustrating end for Ward and her team.

In reaction to the result, Blades boss Ward said: ”I’m disappointed, not with the girls, I thought the girls didn’t deserve to lose today”.

“It’s the same every week, the referee has again played a big part in the outcome. At half-time the referee apologized to us because obviously their first goal was out. But, that’s just one of those things, I respect that she apologized but it happened again”.

Ward even took the issue further stating the FA need to look into the officiating of women’s football by stating: “This is a clear message to the FA, if we are serious about women’s football we have to get better officials. It’s not fair on the Charlton girls or my girls. What’s the point putting all that work in to turn up and get that level of officiating it’s embarrassing”.

Additionally, Blades Captain Gilliatt responded to the controversy by stating: “I don’t feel a great deal went in our favour today. The first goal went out of play massively, it went behind the goal and came back in. They even turned around for a goal kick, but a goal was given”.

Despite Ward and her team’s frustration, a quick response is in order as they must set-up for their fourth round FA Cup fixture this weekend away at Loughborough. Where they will be hoping the headline of the upcoming fixture will be the conclusion of a fantastic performance, and not a refereeing horror show.






FAWC Preview: Sheffield United vs Charlton Athletic

After a three week absence since their first fixture of 2019 against Tottenham Hotspur, Carla Ward’s Sheffield United will return to action at the Olympic Legacy Park, as they host third placed Charlton Athletic. 

The 2-1 defeat in the hands of promotion-chasers Tottenham, was the Women’s first defeat on home soil, but definitely wasn’t a performance to leave the team tormented. Ward’s side left a lot more than sweat on the pitch, as they came narrowly short from taking a point from the game.

This Sunday’s opponents Charlton are also pushing for one of the promotion spots, after a convincingly strong first half of the campaign. In comparison to the Blades’, Charlton kept their promotion dreams alive to start 2019, with a 2-2 draw against rivals Durham.

However, Charlton’s fixture against second-placed Manchester United two weeks ago was abandoned inside the first 15 minutes. Defender Charlotte Kerr suffered a serious injury during Manchester United’s opening goal, which forced the referee to call off the fixture following a lengthy delay.

This ensures how huge the result of this fixture may impact both team’s season, as the Addicks look to keep up the pressure on Tottenham and Manchester United at the top end of the table. Whilst, United currently sit seventh in the table with games in hand over those above.

Additionally, Ward’s team currently sit five points behind London Bees in sixth, but have two games in hand as the run-in towards the end of the season has begun.

Blades fans will be hoping to see even more from new signings Ebony Salmon and Maddy Cusack, who both impressed on their debuts against Tottenham. While, Sam Tierney, Bex Rayner, Alethea Paul, and Veatriki Sarri will all return from international duty to the matchday squad.

On the other hand, Charlton will be looking at new signing Sara Eggesvik to show her ability and boost their chances of leaving Sheffield with three points. Eggesvik signed for the club earlier this month, following a successful spell at Norwegian club IK Grand Bodo.

This fixtures sees the beginning of a hectic schedule for United, with the FA Cup kicking off next weekend. Therefore, Ward will be hoping she can keep her squad fully fit going into this tough period.