Nottingham Forest made it five games unbeaten on Thursday night with an impressive 2-1 victory at Sheffield FC.
Katie Middleton produced a stellar performance for The Reds as she contributed two assists as Aimee Hickingbotham and Ashleigh Edwards fired Forest to their second win in four days.
The home side started the game brightly and forced Forest into some early defending. Emma Johnson rifled a shot from outside the area but Lyndsey Harkin remained firm in defence as she put in a strong block to deflect the effort wide.
The Forest defence was on hand again inside the opening 15 minutes of the game as Sheffield continued to pile on the early pressure Lisa Giampalma fed a good pass through to the feet of Rhema Lord-Mears who ran at the Forest box and ripped a shot from the edge of the area but Kelly Darby got in the way to deflect the shot wide.
Middleton then began to grow in to the game and gave the home side early signs of the danger they would have to deal with as she did superbly well to chase down a loose ball deep inside the final third. Middleton picked up the ball, beat her marker and drilled a low cross into the box but the ball was cleared just before Edwards could get her shot away.
The Reds were gifted a golden opportunity to go ahead on the 25th minute as they were awarded a penalty after Middleton was hacked down from behind inside the box. Last week’s double goal scorer, Edwards stepped up to take the spot kick but she blasted her effort wide of the goal.
But the missed penalty didn’t halter Forest’s threat as they went 1-0 up only four minutes later as Hickingbotham recorded her first goal for the club. Middleton did brilliantly for her side as she charged through the Sheffield half and skipped past several red shirts with ease before she slipped a perfect pass to Hickingbotham across the edge of the box who took a touch and lifted a shot over the ‘keeper.
The Reds picked up from where they left off in the second half and doubled their lead on the 51st minute. Middleton was heavily involved for The Reds again as she picked up the ball and glided into the Sheffiled box, her first two initial shots were well blocked on the line but fortunately Edwards was on hand to poke the ball over the line to ensure her side went 2-0 up.
After knocking up two assists Middleton began her search for a deserved goal of her own and came close. The young forward created some room inside the home side’s box and got a shot off but it was straight at the ‘keeper who made the routine save.
It was a nervy final six minutes for The Reds as Sheffield grabbed a goal back. Forest failed to clear their lines and Lord-Mears hit a first-time effort just inside the box that rolled underneath Thomas but The Reds remained focused for the closing stages of the game and picked up their second league win in four days.
Forest: Thomas, Wilson, Harkin, Walters, Darby (c), Griffin (Constantinou 68’), Conroy (Sullivan 77’), Greaves, Hickingbotham, Edwards (Emery 72’), Middleton
Subs not used: Hallam, Bennett, Hewitt
Goals: Hickingbotham 29’, Edwards 51’
Sheffield: Hobson, Housley (c), Kemp, Hawcroft, Giampalma, Wortley (Clarke 89’), M. Johnson, Neary (Pearson 81’), Tinsley, E. Johnson, Lord-Mears
Subs not used: Butcher, Russell, Clarke, Pearson, Wainwright
Goal: Lord-Mears 84’