Helena Constantinou secured all three points for Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon as she netted a dramatic 93rd-minute winner as The Reds beat Fylde 2-1 at Eastwood CFC.
Bex Rayner opened the scoring on the 11th minute as she put Forest 1-0 ahead with a stunning solo effort but The Coasters struck back and drew level only four minutes later through Laura Merrin. The Reds continued to battle until the end in tough, windy conditions and got their reward as they sealed all three points in dramatic fashion only seconds from the full-time whistle.
Andy Cook made numerous changes to his side that cruised to a 5-0 win last week in the Nottinghamshire County Cup as he handed Sydnie Naylor and Annabel McKechnie their first league starts of the season.
It was an even opening 10 minutes to the game as both sides enjoyed a fair share of possession as the wind picked up and caused havoc pitch side.
The first real opportunity of the game found the back of the net as Rayner made it 1-0 in the 11th minute. The tricky forward collected the ball, weaved her way through several yellow and black shirts and slotted a shot past the ‘keeper and into the bottom left-hand corner of goal.
But Forest’s celebrations didn’t last long as the visitors responded immediately and drew level in the 15th minute. A short corner-kick found Merrin outside the box and she smashed a terrific long-range effort into the far corner of goal.
The game continued to be even between the sides with Forest having the better chances in front of goal but neither side managed to create any more clear-cut chances before the break.
The Reds came out fighting in the second-half to ensure they got a win to continue their promotion push and came close to re-gaining their lead immediately from the restart. Katie Middleton received the ball in the box before taking a touch and drilling a shot towards goal but the ‘keeper got down to make the stop.
Aja Aguirre was called into action twice in the space of 60 seconds just before the hour mark as she collected a cross from Sasha Rowe and then superbly kept out Danielle Young’s shot.
Georgia Hewitt came agonisingly close to netting a goal of the season contender in the 68th minute as she won back the ball just inside the Fylde half before embarking on a run into the box. The full-back then took aim on goal but her shot flew marginally wide.
Hewitt came close again only minutes later as she smashed a strong effort towards the goal but again saw her effort land the wrong side of the goal post.
The Reds got the goal they had been searching for deep into stoppage time as super sub Constantinou struck 10 seconds from full-time. Hamilton slipped a well-weighted pass into the path of Constantinou in the box who saw her initial shot saved but made no mistake the second time as she buried home the rebound.
The final whistle was then blown and the celebrations erupted as Forest extended their league winning streak to five games, having not tasted defeat since September.
Forest: Aguirre, Hewitt, Harkin (c), Cook, Naylor, Walton, Tudor, Warner (Constantinou 82’), Rayner, McKechnie (Bonser 89’), Middleton (Hamilton 58’)
Subs not used: Davies, Bennett
Goals: Rayner 11’, Constantinou 90+3’
Fylde: Powney, Forster, Fuller, Carroll, Young (c) (Hayes 84’), Donoghue, Merrin, Redgrave, Rowe, Holbrook, Embley (Hollinshead 63’)
Subs not used: Payton, Nkomo, Taylor
Booking: Carroll 70’ (sin-bin)
Goal: Merrin 15’