Nottingham Forest shone underneath the floodlights on Thursday evening as they made it two wins in a row with a well-deserved 3-1 victory over Stoke City.
Debut league goals from Helena Constantinou, Viktoria Adam and Katie Middleton ensured all three points for The Reds and ended Stoke’s unbeaten start to the season.
Forest grabbed a third-minute lead through a rocket from Constantinou. Brilliant build-up play ended with the ball falling to the youngster and she smashed her effort into the top right-hand corner from 22 yards.
Adam doubled the lead in the 27th minute with a neat tap-in. Stephanie Lee had forced Stoke goalkeeper Natalie Hall to get down and palm her powerful shot away but the ball was only pushed as far away as Adam who was able to slot it into the net.
Forest were then dealt a blow as captain Kelly Darby was accidently injured by her own teammate, Georgia Hewitt, as the pair were clearing the ball away.
The Reds were forced to play with only 10 men for a couple of minutes as Darby received treatment and Stoke almost took advantage. McCoy rose highest to meet a cross from her teammate but she could only direct it over the crossbar.
Stoke did halve Forest's two-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time through Emily Owen. A superb delivery from a corner had caused problems for Forest as they scrapped to clear the ball away but Owen shrugged off Darby and flicked the ball past Hallam.
Constantinou came close to restoring the two-goal lead in the 74 minute after Adam delivered a great cross into the Stoke penalty area. The ball landed perfectly in the path of Constantinou but she struggled to arrange her feet properly and her shot was weak.
The Reds made no mistake a minute later as the points were sealed. Constantinou’s great ball over the heads of the Stoke defence was met by Middleton who burst into the away side’s box and knocked the ball past an onrushing Hall. The striker then only had to watch as her neat shot rolled into the back of the net.
Middleton came agonisingly close to netting her second goal of the game with five minutes to play. The striker had broken free down the right-hand side and darted towards goal but her shot flew inches wide of the target as Forest sealed another impressive victory.
Forest: Hallam, Dicken, Harkin, Darby (c) (Walters 46’), Hewitt, Griffiths, Griffin, Constantinou, Lee, Adam, Middleton
Subs not used: Davies, Sanderson, Rowson, Wilson
Goals: Costantinou (3’), Adam (27’), Middleton (75’)
Stoke: Hall, Hudson, Roberts, Tezgel, Hyde, Pemberton (Chipman 75’), Hughes, Kivec (Wellings 65’), Kerr, Owen, McCoy (Richardson 48’)
Goals: Owen (45’)