Nottingham Forest picked up their first points of the season with a dominant display and a 5-0 win over Sheffield FC on Thursday night.
Precious Hamilton shone under the Eastwood floodlights as her hat-trick took her seasonal tally to an impressive seven goals in four games while Phoebe Warner and Bex Rayner also etched their names onto the scoresheet with two spectacular efforts to net their first goals in the Garibaldi.
Andy Cook named an unchanged side from Sunday's defeat to Stoke City but a change in starting positions saw Sophie Tudor come into midfield and Izzy Dalton move to the back-line. The change proved to be a crucial one as Tudor produced a notable and solid display in the middle of the park to help Forest to victory.
The Reds started the game brightly from kick-off as they pressed for an early opener inside the opening five minutes. Rayner pinged a perfect pass through to Katie Middleton who charged towards goal. Middleton saw her initial shot saved by the ‘keeper but Rayner was on hand to smash the rebound back towards goal but it was well blocked inside the area and Sheffield eventually cleared the ball away to safety.
After applying the pressure on the Sheffield defence in the first quarter of the game The Reds were awarded a penalty kick on the 14th minute after Hamilton was brought down in the area. Tudor sliced a great pass through the away side’s defence and into the feet of Hamilton on the edge of the box who took a touch into the area before being forced down from behind. Calm and composed in front of goal Hamilton stepped over her penalty kick and buried her spot kick in the bottom left-hand corner as the ‘keeper dived the opposite way.
Hamilton doubled The Reds’ lead on the 38th minute as Forest cranked it up another gear. Georgia Hewitt worked brilliantly down the left-hand side as she bulldozed her way down half of the pitch and into the Sheffield box with the ball. She created herself some space in the area and smashed a shot that took a deflection and trickled towards goal. But Hamilton was waiting inside the area to ensure the ball crossed the line with a close-range tap-in.
Warner netted Forest’s third three minutes later to put her side in cruise control. It was a terrific solo effort from Warner after she flew down the right flank before cutting back into the Sheffield box where she placed a perfect shot over the head of the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
The Reds showed no sign of slowing down in the second half as the side came out hunting to pick up where they left. Middleton came close again for Forest on the 48th minute after her and Hamilton played a great one, two. The quick exchange of passes saw the young Forest forward burst through on goal but as she teed up her shot in the box a Sheffield defender had recovered quickly to make a crucial block to deny Middleton.
Forest sealed all three points on the 49th minute as Rayner opened her account for the side with an excellent finish. After creating an opening of space outside the area Rayner curled a superb effort from over 20 yards out that flew into the top left-hand corner, leaving the ‘keeper with no chance.
The evening’s scoring was wrapped up on the hour mark as Hamilton ensured it was a night to remember for the club as she bagged her first hat-trick in Garibaldi Red. With an effort that was arguably the best of the bunch Hamilton rocketed a shot from the edge of the box that sailed over the head of the helpless ‘keeper and nestled itself into the goal net.
With minutes remaining on the clock and the cold starting to creep in The Reds continued to push until the end as they went searching for more goals. The final opportunity of the game fell to Middleton as she cut back inside onto her favoured foot and thunder bolted an effort towards goal from 22 yards out but it was just wide as her shot skimmed the side netting.
Images provided by Callum Jordan.
Forest: Aguirre, Dalton, Harkin (c), Cook, Hewitt, Walton (Bennett 69’), Tudor, Warner (Constantinou 82’), Rayner, Middleton, Hamilton (Casper 62’)
Subs not used: Davies, Sullivan
Goals: Hamilton 14’, 38’, 60’, Warner 41’, Rayner 49’
Sheffield: Clarke, M. Johnson, Kemp, Ibbotson (Pearson 70’), Knight, Griffin (Wortley 64’), Giampalma, Marsden, Smith, Goodwin, E. Johnson (Wardle 68’)
Subs not used: Barraclough, Heald