Nottingham Forest shone underneath the lights on Thursday evening as they cruised to a 4-1 victory over Sheffield FC.
Lucy Johnson, Hayley James and Rachel Brown all netted their first goals for the club as Rosie Axten also found the back of the net to put The Reds 4-0 up. Brooke Marsden scored a late consolation goal for the visitors but The Reds battled until the final whistle to ensure they secured all three points.
Andy Cook was forced to make one change to his starting 11 from Sunday’s game as Hayley James came in to replace Charlotte Steggles to earn her first start of the season. Poppy Scholefield and Charlotte Broad also came off the bench in the second-half to make their first appearances of the new campaign.
Forest started the game brightly and had an opportunity inside the third minute to go a goal ahead. Mai Moncaster knocked a short pass into Axten inside the final third but the forward’s resulting first-time shot was saved by the ‘keeper.
But The Reds got their opening goal on the 15th minute through a fantastic free-kick courtesy of Johnson. Sophie Tudor was brought down from 25 yards out and Johnson stepped up and smashed the set piece into the far top right-hand corner of goal.
Sydnie Naylor linked up with Bex Rayner on the 37th minute as the midfielder fed a pass into the feet of Rayner inside the box. Rayner turned with the ball before teeing up a shot on goal but the ‘keeper denied the forward with a great stop.
James doubled The Reds’ lead on the stroke of half-time as she buried home her first goal as a Red. Georgia Hewitt weaved her way through the penalty box but before she was hastily brought down in the area she poked a pass through to James. The referee signalled for play to continue as James picked up the ball and fired it past the ‘keeper into the far right-hand side of goal.
Forest picked up from where they left off in the second-half as Axten etched her name on the scoresheet on the 50th minute. Naylor floated a ball into the path of Axten in the away side’s box who then comfortably lifted her shot over Elizabeth Hobson in goal to make it 3-0.
Axten had a chance to bag her brace nine minutes later after she charged through Sheffield’s final third and smacked a shot from distance towards goal but the ‘keeper got down to push the shot safely around her goal post.
Brown joined in on the goal scoring action on the 70th minute as she got off the mark for the campaign. Introduced as a substitute only 13 minutes before, Brown met Rayner’s cross inside the six-yard box and guided her headed effort past the ‘keeper and into the back of the net.
Sheffield dampened Forest’s evening on the 82nd minute as they stole a goal back. Marsden fired in from close-range after meeting a through ball to ensure The Reds wouldn’t come away with a clean sheet.
But Forest’s four goals were enough to collect all three points as the side moved up to joint first in the league standings heading into Sunday’s game away to Stoke City.
Forest: Aguirre, Greengrass, Harkin ©, Johnson, Hewitt, James, Naylor (Brown 57’), Moncaster, Tudor (Scholefield 67’), Rayner, Axten (Broad 76’)
Subs not used: Middleton & McKechnie
Goals: Johnson 15’, James 44’, Axten 50’, Brown 70’
Sheffield FC: Hobson, McLoughlin, Housley, Smith, Griffin, Sullivan, Smith (Marsden 76’), Crossman, Giampalma (Ashton 76’), Edwards (Pearson 76’), Camfield
Subs not used: Parsons, Conroy
Goal: Marsden 82’