Nottingham Forest booked their place in the Nottinghamshire County Cup final for a fifth consecutive season with a 5-0 win over Ollerton Town on a wet and windy afternoon at Eastwood CFC.
The Reds were forced to wait until the second half to open the scoring as Katie Middleton and Helena Constantinou each netted a brace before Precious Hamilton marked her comeback with a goal as she rounded off the scoring with five minutes to go.
Andy Cook made several changes to his previous starting 11 as he handed Laura-Jayne O’Neill her first start in two years after her long-awaited return from injury.
Forest dominated the early proceedings and had numerous chances to go ahead inside the first 10 minutes. Middleton saw her shot fly just wide of the target before Constantinou saw an effort stopped by the goalkeeper. Mai Moncaster found herself with the ball inside the box but her shot lacked power and was an easy save for the Ollerton number one.
It took The Reds until the 31st minute to carve out their first real convincing shot in front of goal as Sophie Walton fed a great ball over the heads of the Ollerton defence and into the path of O’Neill. The full-back found Laura Dexter with a teasing cross but she saw her resulting effort cleared off the line.
Middleton came close to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time after she weaved her way through several white shirts and into the box before striking towards goal but the goalkeeper made a smart save.
The Reds finally got the goal they had been searching for as Middleton scored her third County Cup goal in two games. The young forward saw her initial shot blocked on the edge of the box but she floated a superb follow-up effort over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
The goal sparked Forest into life and Constantinou doubled her side’s lead 12 minutes later as she created some space and drilled a shot from 22 yards past the outstretched hand of the goalkeeper.
Constantinou secured her brace only three minutes later as she was on hand to smash home a rebound after Forest saw their first chance come crashing back off the crossbar.
Middleton bagged her second goal of the game after she got on the end of a fantastic pass from Lyndsey Harkin before she sprinted into the Ollerton penalty area and nestled a shot into the far corner of the visitors' goal.
Substitute Bex Rayner should have etched her name on the scoresheet but she saw her fiercely dipping long-range strike come bouncing back off the woodwork.
The final word went to Hamilton with five minutes to play as she took to the field for the first time in over a month. The striker picked up the ball inside the box before placing it powerfully into the back of the net.
The win sees The Reds progress through to the competition’s final where they will face Nottingham Forest's reserve side in what will be a momentous game for the club.
Images kindly provided by Callum Jordan.
Forest: Davies, O’Neill (Hewitt 55’), Harkin, Walters, Bonser, Walton, Moncaster (Rayner 70’), Middleton, Constantinou, Hickingbotham (Hamilton 70’), Dexter
Subs not used: Aguirre, Bennett
Goals: Middleton 50’, 68’, Constantinou 62’, 65’, Hamilton 85’