Nottingham Forest produced an impressive team performance on Thursday evening as the side returned to winning ways with a superb 3-0 win over Loughborough Foxes away from home.
Goals from Precious Hamilton either side of the break and a brilliant strike from Bex Rayner in the second half ensured the win for The Reds in a game where the whole team impressed.
After an even opening 10 minutes, Forest began to take the reins of the match and quickly settled comfortably in to the game. Rayner found some space in the 10th minute in The Foxes’ final third and curled a shot towards goal from distance but it flew just over the target.
Hamilton came close to putting The Reds ahead in spectacular fashion only two minutes later as she flicked a free-kick goalwards from just outside the box but her shot bounced agonisingly wide of the woodwork.
Forest were awarded their first penalty of the evening on the 18th minute as Hamilton was brought down inside the area after she got on the end of a great pass from Izzy Dalton. Hamilton dusted herself off and got up to take the spot kick but the in-form striker uncharacteristically placed her effort just over the cross bar.
Phoebe Warner inflicted her stamp on the game as she embarked on a mazey run from the half-way line through to the Loughborough 18-yard box before slicing a great pass through to Middleton, but Middleton could only roll her effort wide of the right-hand goal post.
The Reds were awarded their second spot kick of the evening on the 30th minute as this time Middleton was hacked down inside the area. At the second time of asking, Hamilton stepped up and coolly slotted her penalty past the ‘keeper and into the bottom left-hand corner.
Middleton had an opportunity just before the break to double her side’s lead after she picked up a great through ball and charged into the home side’s box. After cutting back inside and smacking a shot towards the goal she was denied from close range as the ‘keeper made the easy save.
Forest picked up from where they left off in the second half as the highly-influential Rayner made it 2-0 to The Reds in the 57th minute. Rayner created some space for herself inside Loughborough’s final third and from over 22 yards out curled a wonderful effort, that couldn’t be kept out by the ‘keeper, and buried itself into the back of the net.
Eight minutes later and The Reds were denied a third several times in the space of seconds as a goalmouth scramble went in favour of the home side. Rayner’s corner kick caused chaos inside The Foxes’ box as shots from Cook and Tudor deep inside the penalty area were somehow blocked by a flurry of shirts and eventually cleared away before they could cross the goal line.
Hamilton wrapped up the win for The Reds in the 76th minute to bag her 13th goal of the season. Hamilton carried the ball through the Loughborough half and placed a terrific shot past the helpless ‘keeper that comfortably nestled itself into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal.
Rayner continued to sprinkle her magic onto the game and flashed her skill as she ran half the length of the pitch before sliding a well-weighted pass through to Middleton inside the area. Middleton did well to hold off a blue shirt before rounding the ‘keeper and shooting towards goal but a recovering defender got back quickly to clear away her effort to deny the young Forest forward.
The last opportunity of the game fell to skipper Lyndsey Harkin two minutes from time as Rayner’s corner kick landed at her feet and she smashed the ball back towards goal but a great goal line clearance denied Forest a fourth.
Forest: Aguirre, Dalton (Bennett 75’), Harkin (c), Cook, Hewitt, Walton (Moncaster 89’), Tudor, Rayner, Middleton, Warner, Hamilton (Dexter 84’)
Subs not used: Davies, Fisher
Goals: Hamilton 31’, 76’, Rayner 57’