It was a case of déja vu at the Home of Football Stadium as the London Bees for the second time this season overcame Sheffield FC Ladies in a smash and grab win.
Looking to repeat their 5-0 win at The Hive rather than witness a recurrence of their 2-0 WSL Cup defeat, Sheffield will have been disappointed with their first half display.
Although Sheffield had more of the chances, with Hannah Dale curling over for the first real effort on goal, it was they who conceded the biggest chance of the match, upon which the Bees duly capitalised.
Sheffield lost the ball high up the pitch, and Emma Beckett launched a pinpoint pass towards Jo Wilson who was left lazily unmarked and raced in to open the scoring.
Hannah Dale responded with a fierce left foot shot after cutting in, but it was only Dale and Rhema Lord-Mears making the running in a disjointed first half performance from the hosts.
Lord-Mears and Emma Johnson both volleyed over with opportunistic efforts, but it was in the air that Sheffield FC would consistently find openings. First a Johnson corner found Emma Lipman who headed back across the face of goal before Jodie Michalska headed wide from 6 yards from a Chloe Dixon cross to squander their best opportunity of the opening period.
The second half was almost all Sheffield, and they should have equalised within a couple of minutes of the start as Ellie Gilliatt found herself with space in the box but blasted wide when she should have placed her shot.
Despite all their possession and territory, the chances dried up for large periods as the London Bees defence, led by commanding centre back Deanna Cooper, took a stranglehold on the game.
Captain Carla Ward headed wide from another Johnson corner, but as Sheffield chased the game they became more open at the back. Wilson found herself in behind again and forced a smart save from Juliana Draycott, and Emma Beckett headed over powerfully.
Finally the big chances came with five minutes left on the clock. Gilliatt was played through and tucked her chance away perfectly only to see the offside flag raised, a decision that manager Zoe Johnson felt was “blatantly” incorrect.
All was not lost for Sheffield though. With Gilliatt’s fury still ringing in the referee’s ears, Lord-Mears got to the by-line and crossed for Kirsty Hanson who saw her first time shot hit the right hand post and bounce across the face of goal before being smothered by keeper Sophie Harris.
There was still time for Ward and Gilliatt to flick on for Johnson, but by the time her tame shot reached Harris’ arms, it was clear to all in the ground that it was not to be Sheffield’s day.
Speaking to Forge Sport, manager Zoe Johnson said that the girls “didn’t turn up” in the first half,” but that London Bees “came to us twice with a game plan and turned us over.”
POTM: Rhema Lord-Mears (Sheffield), Merrick Will (Bees)
Commentary: Nikhil Vekaria & Oli Baseley
Article & Interview: Hugh Dickinson
Producer: Dan West