London Bees fell to a 3-1 defeat as Sheffield United maintained the pressure on Aston Villa at the top of the FA Women’s Championship table.

Goals inside the first half an hour from Jade Pennock and Olivia Fergusson set Carla Ward’s side on their way.

Former Bees striker Katie Wilkinson rounded things off just minutes after Nikita Whinnett had given the visitors a lifeline, with United securing their sixth successive win in all competitions.

Both sides started the game brightly and both had chances to go ahead before Pennock’s opener. With 17 minutes gone, Pennock played a neat one-two with Fergusson and calmly slotted home into the corner to put the hosts ahead.

The hosts made the most of their momentum when Fergusson doubled the lead after a quick counter attack, slamming home Wilkinson’s low pass across the penalty area.

Both Pennock and Fergusson missed big chances to double their own goal tallies before the break before Whinnett ran onto a through ball early in the second half, slamming home past Becky Flaherty to halve the deficit.

But to the frustration of the visitors they were 3-1 down just moments later. Pennock turned provider when she slipped in Wilkinson who promptly finished low past Sarah Quantrill to restore the two-goal lead.

Pennock went agonisingly close to another as the game entered stoppage time but her effort from the edge of the box just dipped over the bar as the Blades went searching for a fourth.

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