Ellie Gilliatt on the pieces of the puzzle coming together in Sheffield
Credit: Julian Barker

Ellie Gilliatt on the pieces of the puzzle coming together in Sheffield

Captain reflects on win over Leicester City 

Sophie Lawson

Fresh off of their win over Leicester City we spoke to Sheffield United captain Ellie Gilliatt about the match and how the Blades are improving week in, week out. 

Frustrating match

In a match that the Blades had by the scruff from the get-go, the chances seemed to only flow in one direction towards Demi Lambourne’s goal, the team more than able to disrupt Leicester’s rhythm.

We dominated from the off. First half we dominated, we created a lot of chances, I can’t really remember much of them attacking our goal. Second half we knew they’d come out of the gates but I thought we started tremendously second half.

With the lion’s share of chances, the hosts had little in front of goal to back up all that they created, most efforts flying wide or weak and easily saved. However, there were a few times in the match that Sheffield should have taken the lead, the hosts leaving the woodwork shaking three times, drawing some strong saves from Lambourne throughout.

The decisive moment when Bex Rayner got in, her unconvincing effort taking a healthy deflection to take it away from the ‘keeper.

I think it was deserved, we need a little bit of luck sometimes we must have had 20 chances and it was one of the poorer chances that went in but I’ll take that and I’ll take the three points.

Forging a new path

With their successful application to join the rejigged Women’s Championship, things had to move fast in Sheffield for United as a glut of players were brought in and fast had to learn to play together as a team. Given a healthy test in their first two matches against Durham and Manchester United, the progress hasn’t been as speedy as some fans may have hoped but bit by bit, the pieces are coming together.

The girls have been fantastic, obviously it’s been difficult; 17 new players who’ve never played together in the league – which is getting tougher and tougher each season. I think we had a slow start, we had a tough start with United and Durham but now we’re starting to get games we think can win and we’re starting to push on and do that.

In the capable hands of Carla Ward, the team are being pushed by the young manager.

We’re grafting, we’re working hard. The manager, Wardy as a player demanded everything at the highest level and she demands it as a manager so we’re grafting pretty hard.”

Not getting overwrought in the second tier, the mantra for the Blades the familiar, “one match at a time”.

The goals are just to concentrate on each game as it comes and we believe if we can take three points, brilliant. We just take each game as it comes and hope for as many points as we can take.

Like a number of teams in the second tier, Sheffield United Women are tied to a fully established men’s team and do far more than just share a name. Backed by the men’s side entirely, the team has the benefit of knowing if the navigate life in the Championship and find themselves top of the pile, the funds will be there to take the step up to the WSL.

Sheffield United have been fantastic with the backing that they’ve given us, they’ve really let us had free rein to let us express ourselves and I think if we can keep on like we’re doing, who knows what the next couple of seasons could hold for the club.