Nottingham Forest closed their season with a 5-3 rampant win away to Hull City yesterday afternoon.
All of the Reds goals came in the first half as a brace from Precious Hamilton and a goal apiece from Aimee Hickingbotham, Grace Walters and Helena Constantinou ensured Forest finished ninth in the league standings with their highest point tally in three years.
The Tigers opened the scoring on the 11th minute as Rebecca Beech netted her first of the afternoon. A high through ball soared over the heads of the Reds defence that Beech latched on the end of and she looped her shot over Aja Aguirre to put her side ahead.
But the Reds responded immediately as Hamilton drew Forest level only a minute later. Constantinou whipped a trademark corner kick into the box that Hamilton rose the highest to meet and she successfully guided her header past the ‘keeper.
Aguirre came up big for the Reds six minutes later as she pushed a thundering long-range effort onto the cross bar to ensure the scoring remained level.
Hamilton and Constantinou linked up again on corner kicks as she got on the end of another set piece but Hamilton’s second headed chance was cleared off the goal line.
The Reds then began to take control of the game and came close to going ahead again only moments later. The Tigers had cleared a corner kick from the Reds but only to as far as the edge of the box where Hickingbotham was waiting to smash her shot first time but her rocketed effort was deflected out wide.
Forest finally got the lead they had been searching for as Hamilton put her side ahead on the 24th minute. Forest had launched a long ball deep into the Hull half and the ‘keeper came rushing out of her area in attempt to clear away the ball but she fluffed her clearance and the ball landed at Hamilton’s feet. The striker took a touch and launched a 30+ yard shot towards an empty goal to bag her second of the game.
The Reds were put into the driving seat only a minute later as Hickingbotham netted another spectacular goal for the side. Hull failed to safely clear away the dangerous ball and Hickingbotham rocketed an effort from the edge of the area that snuck underneath the cross bar and over the helpless ‘keeper’s head.
It was then goal scoring rampage from the Reds as Walters added the side’s fourth on the 28th minute. Constantinou curled another perfect corner kick into the Hull box and Walters was on hand to turn the ball past the ‘keeper and into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
Constantinou rounded of the first half scoring on the 36th minute as she finally got her own name on the scoresheet. Katie Middleton was involved in the build-up as she flashed her skill and skipped past a couple of orange and black shirts before slipping through a great pass to Hamilton. Hamilton then looped a shot from outside the area that the ‘keeper pushed out but failed to keep hold of and Constantinou punished her as she came rushing in to tap the loose ball past her.
The Reds thought they had added a sixth on the stroke of half time as Hamilton had the ball in the back of the net to confirm her hat trick. Hamilton got on the end of a brilliant cross from Frankie Wilson and she knocked the ball past the ‘keeper but the referee ruled the goal out for hand ball.
Forest picked up from where they left off in the second half and Middleton had a couple of opportunities inside the opening five minutes to extend her side’s lead. Both times Middleton had picked up the ball and gone on a mazey run towards the Hull goal but her first effort was pushed around the near post by the ‘keeper and the second time she was denied by a great tackle from Amy Kay before she could hit her shot.
Hull reduced the goal scoring deficit on the 63rd minute as Hope Knight fired an unstoppable shot from distance past Aguirre.
Hamilton came close again to netting her hat trick as she got on the end of a cross from substitute Jordan Atkin but the forward could only guide her effort wide of the goal post.
The Tigers had improved heavily in the second half and had made it tougher for the Reds in front of goal but the side were gifted another chance to restore their four-goal lead on the 80th minute. Forest broke quickly and Shannon Weston squared a cross along the edge of the box to Constantinou but her low shot was weak and the ‘keeper got down to make the easy save.
Hull added a late consolation goal deep into stoppage time as the Reds fail to clear their lines. A free kick caused problems for Forest in the penalty area and Beech flicked the ball past Aguirre to net her brace.
But two second half goals didn’t spoil the end of season party for the Reds as the side ended a tough season with a well-deserved and memorable win.
Forest: Aguirre, Wilson, Harkin ( c ), Bennett, Walters, Weston, Edwards, Middleton (Atkin 63’), Hickingbotham (Bonser 84’), Constantinou (Tamasy 87’), Hamilton
Unused Subs: Davies
Goals: Hamilton (12’ & 24’), Hickingbotham (25’), Walters (28’), Constantinou (36’)
Bookings: Hamilton (43’)
Hull: Lacey, Oxley, Kay, Jackman, Westmorland (Johnson-Collier 56’), Blinkhorn (Russell 56’), Smith, Skinner, Lynskey, Knight, Beech
Unused Subs: Tanser
Goals: Beech (11’ & 90+2’), Knight (63’)