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F.A.Women's Cup - Road to the Final
Steel City Wanderers were victors in our First Round Qualifying tie as they won 2-1 against Sheffield Utd Junior Blades, thanks to a brace of goals from Danni Fletcher. The Steels will face another local derby this week as they must take on Sheffield Utd Community, who beat Hull City 3-0 thanks to Ami Buzzeo, Tania Marsden and Ewa Kuchta.
Sheffield United Community Ladies FC was founded in 1998 as a girls junior team by Bramall Lane legend Tony Currie through his United in the Community work. In 2002 United became an open-age team when they acquired the team Sheffield Inter as the East Midlands Premier outfit were folding. Guided by new Manager Derek Baxby and boosted by some ex-Sheff Wednesday personnel who followed him, a strong team was soon forged.
In their first three seasons United finished in the top three and were runners-up in the 2005 County Cup Final. 2005-06 saw United win all their Unison East Midlands Premier league and Cup games in a fantastic double season that was lead by 75-goal Jodie Snelson. Promoted to the Midland Combination, United consolidated well after losing Snelson to Lincoln with an eventual 8th place finish after being second in the early season. Baxby had stepped down during the season and new Manager Mark Oxley faced a serious rebuild after Belles, Rotherham and Wednesday all came in for ten of United's talented players. United's second season in the Combination was not surprisingly a tough one resulting in relegation. However a lot of hard work by the new management meant some late season wins and a new working relationship with the United Academy kept the team upbeat into the summer. The team was rejuvenated with the arrival of some fine young talent from the academy which set United up nicely for their first season back below the Combination level, this time in the North East Premier Division. After a shaky start to the 2008-09 campaign United, under the guidance of former manager Gary Sharp, hit a fine run of form after the Christmas break resulting in a climb up the table and a League Cup Final place.
Now into the 2011-12 season, manager Steve Ahmed - assisted by Simon Lonsdale with Mark Holmes as coach - has a fantastic blend of youth that came from the Sheffield United Academy with England Junior experience (as well as a junior Polish international) and experienced players to guide them. Captain Rachel Ruddach, United's longest serving open age player has played most of her career in midfield but these days she marshals United's back-line. Her influence inspiration to her younger team mates cannot be measured, though her efforts often go unnoticed as others further up the field grab the headlines.
The match is set to be another very closely contested local derby and although United start off as narrow favourites due to their higher status, the Steels will be setting their sights on another local scalp.
Sheffield Utd Community (from): Kirsty Johnson, Amy Bolton, April Taylor, Rachel Ruddach, Natalie Froggatt, Lena Brooks, Deryn Ahmed, Ami Buzzeo, Cheryl Mawhood, Tania Marsden, Jennifer Pearson, Zoe Beresford, Paige Lewis, Abigail Creed, Ewa Kuchta, Cara Hopkinson.
Steel City Wanderers (from): Nikki Andrew, Jas Summers, Sarah Smith, Sam Hallam, Chloe Granger, Danielle Harrison, Bex Gregory, Becky Vickers, Danni Fletcher, Kelsey Murphy-Bigley, Vanessa Wilshaw, Rachel Aikman, Lucy Smith, Maria Burns, Laura Elsworth.
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