Preview of AFC Unity vs Kiveton Park

by Sam Tabuteau

AFC Unity are looking to build on an impressive victory over Milmoor Reserves last weekend, with a win against mid-table Kiveton Park this Sunday.

In the final fixture of 2019 Unity are looking to make progress both on and off the pitch as the Football for Food initiative returns to support the local community ahead of the festive period. Christmas is a time in which many people celebrate the dawning of a new year. For some, however, this luxury is not afforded to them and Unity have begun to use their position as both a social enterprise and a football club to ease people’s fears and spread hope not fear across Sheffield.

Jaimee Reeve, who leads the Food for Football campaign had this to say: “It’s the last game for donations to our festive Football for Food campaign. There has been such an amazing response so far and it’s great to be doing good things on and off the pitch.”

On the pitch coach, Jay Baker is more than wary of making too many changes to the team that won at Milmoor and as such he is likely to persist with the three-woman formation he implemented last time out. For all the defensive solidity the formation allowed Unity they appeared hesitant to spread possession and exploit the space out wide. There should hence be a far greater emphasis on transitioning the ball into the feet of Unity’s forwards before laying it back and ultimately distributing into the flanks. Such space will be afforded to them as a result of transitioning play through the centre of the park, dragging the opposition inwards and allowing Unity’s full-backs to push on.

Kiveton haven’t played regularly in recent weeks and were given a loss last weekend for failing to field enough players. Before that, however, the Sheffield Wednesday Development squad handed Kiveton their heaviest defeat of the season, and confidence will be at rock bottom heading into their game with Unity.

Complacency should be dealt with appropriately heading into the game, and Unity will be well aware that despite having won last weekend there is plenty of work at hand if they want to push up the table.

Claire Watkinson is out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury sustained last Sunday, whilst Sarah Peck is absent and Alex Cherry is still ruled out with injury. Top goalscorer Jo Wadsworth (52 goals in 84 appearances overall; 6 goals in 8 appearances this season) is hoping to get some much-needed game time, whilst Sarah Choonara (wing-back) and Katie Mishner (attacking mid/forward) return to the squad. This game will be Becky Gay’s 50th appearance for AFC Unity and she will be hoping more than anyone that Unity can push themselves up the table with a second consecutive victory in the Sheffield and Hallamshire Woman and Girls League.

Selected 16-woman squad:

1 Hannah Lamb

2 Sarah Choonara

3 Jane Watkinson 

5 Jaimee Reeve

10 Stacey Leigh

11 Becky Gay

12 Emma Howe

14 Chloe Burditt

15 Jodean Wadsworth

16 Lizzie Smith

17 Kirsten Vizor

18 Ruth Kennedy

29 Kristina Rankine

33 Lisa Gray

37 Rachel Rodgers (captain)

45 Katie Mishner