Two second-half goals weren’t enough for Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon as they fell to a 5-2 defeat away to Middlesbrough on the opening day of the season.
Precious Hamilton and Izzy Sullivan got off the mark for the season with two late strikes but Middlesbrough produced a dominating performance across the full 90 to clinch all three points.
The Reds started the game brightly and enjoyed the majority of possession inside the opening 10 minutes and Katie Middleton was gifted the opportunity to put her side ahead. The forward picked up a long through pass and cut back into the Boro box and drilled a shot towards goal but the ‘keeper got down to bundle the ball to safety.
The home side thought they had netted the opening goal on the 11th minute as Eleanor Dale put the ball into the back of the net but the offside flag was raised on the forward.
But the North-East side made sure their next effort counted as Emily Scarr put Boro ahead on the 19th minute. Scarr used her pace to break free from the Forest defence and she charged towards goal. She remained calm inside the area as she smashed her shot past Aja Aguirre in goal into the bottom right-hand corner.
Boro doubled their lead eight minutes later as Tyler Dodds etched her name on the scoresheet. Dodd’s punished The Reds as they paid the hefty price for a defensive mistake at the back and she capitalised on the error and slotted a shot past Aguirre at the near post.
Sullivan had three opportunities in front of goal within five minutes of each other in the closing 15 minutes of the first half as she tried to half the scoring. Two of her efforts sailed wide of the goal and her third came agonisingly crashing back off the crossbar.
The home side rounded off the first-half scoring on the 38th minute as Dale added the game’s third. The forward made sure she wasn’t off-side this time as she converted from close range off a deep cross from out wide.
Boro picked up from where they left off in the second half as they continued their goal scoring rampage on the 49th minute. Defender Rebekah Bass joined in on the goal scoring action with arguably the side’s best goal of the game. The ball fell to the waiting player outside the area and she blasted her effort first time from long-range that nestled itself into the bottom corner of the goal past a helpless Aguirre.
After making all three of their changes just before the hour mark The Reds finally sparked to life as they clawed a goal back through Hamilton on the 64th minute. Bex Rayner dragged a short pass back to Hamtilton inside the Boro box after Forest stormed their area and Hamilton hit a first time after that flew past the ‘keeper into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
The comeback was on for Forest 15 minutes later as Sullivan handed the side another life-line. Hamilton drove towards the Boro goal whilst holding off a red shirt and smashed a shot from the edge of the area. The ‘keeper fumbled the save and failed to keep hold of the ball and Sullivan was on hand to tap home the rebound.
Substitute Ellie Casper came agonisingly close to bringing The Reds within one goal of drawing level minutes later. Hamilton flashed a hard cross deep into the Boro box that Casper jumped to meet but she failed to make a solid connection with the ball and her effort flew wide.
Boro sealed all three points on the 90th minute as Dale netted her brace. The Forest defence was slow in catching up to Dale as she stormed through alone into The Reds penalty box and she made it five for her side as she placed a shot past Aguirre.
Forest: Aguirre, Harkin (c), Tudor (Bennett 56’), Cook, Walters, Dalton, Sullivan, Middleton (Casper 56’), Rayner, Dexter (Edwards 56’), Hamilton
Unused subs: Davies, Hewitt
Bookings: Tudor 42’
Goals: Hamilton 64’, Sullivan 79’
Middlesbrough: Wareham (c), Bass, Luke, Brown, Foster, Watt, Dodds, Hutchinson (Elliott 46’), Dale, McQuade (Bell 65’), Scarr
Unused subs: M. Shaw, B. Shaw, Newton
Goals: Scarr 19’, Dodds 27’, Dale 38’, 90’, Bass 49’