Nottingham Forest produced a performance full of heart and determination on Sunday as they were beaten at home by high-flying Sunderland.
Late goals put extra gloss on the scoreline for the visitors but it was still a memorable day for The Reds as youngster Beth Tyson made her first-team debut in attack.
The weather played havoc on the fixture and the game was temporarily suspended after only six minutes. Heavy hail and snow hit Eastwood CFC but after a short break the game was able to get back underway.
The Reds faced up well to their tough opponents and Emily Hallam began her long list of great saves after 10 minutes.
Hallam read a corner kick correctly and was ready to push the resulting headed effort over the cross bar and deny the Black Cats an opener.
Chances were hard to come by for the Reds but the team battled well continuously to earn back position in the Sunderland half. Aimee Hickingbotham did well to win back the ball on the half way line and Helena Constantinou picked it up and carried it into the away side’s final third. She then slipped a through ball into the path of an onrushing Sarah Brown but the ‘keeper beat the forward to the ball.
Georgia Hewitt also impressed in defence and got back superbly to deny the Black Cats going ahead. Hewitt made a last-ditch tackle on the Sunderland forward as she lined up to shoot inside the Forest box and quickly scampered back on her feet to clear the ball away to safety.
The Reds were awarded a free kick mid-way in Sunderland’s half on the 36th minute and Sianna Bennett stepped up to take the set piece. Bennett saw an opening and smashed her free kick towards goal but it agonisingly flew marginally wide.
Maria Farrugia went hunting for an opener for the Black Cats next and drilled a low cross into the Forest box looking for Bridget Galloway to divert it past Hallam. But the Reds number one did great to get down and smother the ball and deny Galloway a chance to shoot.
Forest deserved the go into the break all tied at 0-0 but two quick fire goals from Sunderland denied them a fair score line.
A brilliant high, whipping cross came flying in from Charlotte Potts and Niamh McLaughlin ran freely into the Forest box and looped a header over Hallam in the 42nd minute.
McLaughlin then netted her brace only two minutes later with a terrific shot. McLaughlin found some space to shoot from 20 yards out and smashed a rocket of shot over Hallam and that snuck underneath the cross bar.
Forest came out strong in the second half and hunting to try and claw something back in the game and deny the away side any further goals.
Bennett remained a force in the defence and put in two strong blocks within two minutes of each other. Kiera Ramshaw turned and shot from distance both times but Bennett stood firm and diverted both efforts wide.
Galloway picked up a pass and went running at the Forest box freely and looking to go one of one with the ‘keeper. But Hewitt got across quickly and put in a brilliant last-ditch tackle to win back the ball.
Sunderland sealed all three points on the 65th minute through their captain, Ramshaw. The Reds fail to clear a pass from the Sunderland midfield and the ball rolled through them and into the feet of Ramshaw. Who brought it into the Forest box and lifted an easy shot over Hallam.
Katie Barker extended her side’s lead to 4-0 only two minutes later. McLaughlin continued to be a threat for the Black Cats and whipped a cross into the Forest box and Barker was on hand to turn it in on the far-right hand post.
The Reds thought they deserved a penalty on the 79th minute as they deemed there was a hand ball from a sky-blue shirt in the Sunderland box. Francesca Wilson hit a corner kick into the away side’s box that was thought to have been cleared via a hand but the referee waved away all appeals.
Ramshaw secured her brace on the 87th minute and extended the scoring to 5-0 as she placed a low effort underneath Hallam from just inside the Forest box.
The afternoon’s scoring was wrapped one minute into stoppage time as a third Sunderland player netted their brace. Galloway smashed a powerful shot at goal that Hallam couldn’t keep hold off and Barker was lurking behind to ensure the ball crossed the line.
Speaking after the game manager, Alena Moutlon, explained her thoughts and the youngsters that were called up to Sunday’s match day squad; “Those girls that were called in from the reserves did brilliantly, either on the bench or those that played, they all had fantastic attitude.”
Forest: Hallam, Wilson, Bennett, Walters (c), Hewitt, Constantinou, Edwards, Middleton, Hickingbotham, Brown, Tyson (Sanderson 76’)
Subs not used: Davies, Reek, Lancashire
Sunderland: Cowling, Kemp, Griffiths (Warren 81’), Ramshaw, Lambert (Gibson 73’), Galloway, Barker, McCatty, McLaughlin (Hutchinson 68’), Farrugia, Potts
Subs not used: Stewart, Young
Goals: McLaughlin 42’, 44’, Ramshaw 65’, 87’, Barker 67’, 90'