Nottingham Forest were condemned to a 6-2 defeat against a strong Stoke City side on Sunday afternoon at Eastwood Community Football Club.
Goals for Lyndsey Harkin and Precious Hamilton had given The Reds a 2-1 lead but Faye McCoy's hat-trick inspired the visitors and they took control of the second half to inflict a third straight defeat on Andy Cook's side.
Cook made four changes to the side that had been beat at Huddersfield last weekend as Harkin, Sophie Tudor and Katie Middleton returned to the starting XI while Phoebe Warner was handed her debut after she arrived from Aston Villa earlier in the week.
It took The Reds just 50 seconds to open the scoring as Harkin netted her first goal in three seasons for the club. Straight from the kick-off, Middleton forced an early corner and Harkin rose highest to meet Bex Rayner's floated delivery and power her header into the far corner of the net.
Forest paid the price for a defensive mistake as McCoy drew her side level on the half-hour mark. Aja Aguirre’s attempted clearance didn't get the required distance and fell directly at the feet of a Stoke forward who rolled a pass back along the edge of the area to McCoy and she drilled her shot beyond a helpless Aguirre.
Hamilton put The Reds back in front six minutes later as she continued her fine start to the season. Tudor’s long pass fell perfectly for Hamilton inside the area and she did superbly to fend off several purple shirts before turning and burying her shot past goalkeeper Clarke.
Stoke wanted a quick response and they found one as Kelsey Richardson restored parity once again following another defensive blunder from The Reds. Nicola Gibson stole possession from Harkin inside the Forest penalty area, rolled it across to Richardson and her controlled finish found the back of the net despite Aguirre's best efforts.
The Potters took the lead for the first time of the on the stroke of half-time through McCoy's second of the afternoon. Natasha Baptiste flicked a pass over the heads of the Forest back four through to McCoy and the striker blasted her shot over Aguirre and into the back of the net.
The Reds came out fighting in the second half looking to regain their earlier lead and had two opportunities in front of goal inside the first five minutes.
The first chance saw Hamilton's goal-bound effort deflected behind and from the resulting corner, Rayner spotted an unmarked Sophie Walton on the edge of the box but her first-time strike from the edge of the box flew wide of Clarke's right-hand post.
Stoke were beginning to take charge of the contest and extended their advantage on 57 minutes. Forest failed to successfully clear their lines from a Potters' corner and Megan Bowyer was waiting inside the area to hammer the ball past Aguirre and deliver a real body-blow to The Reds.
The visitors went on to add two more goals before the final whistle as Abby Hunt curled in a superb fifth from the edge of the Forest penalty area before McCoy sealed her hat-trick with a guided header past Aguirre to leave The Reds winless from their first three matches.
Images provided by Callum Jordan.
Forest: Aguirre, Harkin (c), Tudor (Bennett 61’), Cook, Hewitt, Walton, Dalton (Sullivan 61’), Warner, Rayner, Middleton (Casper 61’), Hamilton
Subs not used: Davies, Dexter
Goals: Harkin 1’, Hamilton 35’
Stoke: Clarke, Hudson, Gibson, Tezgel (Pemberton 71’), Brown, Hunt (Hughes 80’), Richardson, Hall, Bowyer, Baptiste (Kivel 79’), McCoy
Subs not used: Kolbuck, Wilkie
Booking: Gibson 69’
Goals: McCoy 29’, 45’, 85’, Gibson 37’, Bowyer 57’, Hunt 72’