Laura-Jayne O’Neill battled her way back from a long injury lay-off to earn her first league start in 18 months on Sunday afternoon.
The defender last played for The Reds in the league in March 2018 and O’Neill got her reward for being side-lined for so long as she netted her first goal since the 2013-14 season.
Reflecting on finding the back of the net for the first time in six years O’Neill said: “It’s not a feeling I’m used to that’s for sure but I was just happy to bring us back level after going 1-0 down.
“It was a fantastic ball in to me towards to the back post.
“We’ve had lots of different goal scorers so far, since the beginning of pre-season so that’s always a positive.”
O’Neill enjoyed a successful and injury-free pre-season campaign to ensure she came into
the new season fighting fit and she is delighted to officially be back.
“In one way, it feels like I was never out injured,” the 26-year-old explained.
“This pre-season has been a good one for me so far and I was just focussed on the game and no longer thinking about past injuries – now I’m just focussing on this season.
“But of course, on reflection it means so much to be back playing competitive football with this team.
“I’m forever grateful for all the support from the players, staff and club during what was a very difficult time for me whilst trying to get myself back on the pitch.”
O’Neill and the rest of The Reds picked up a 2-2 draw away to West Bromwich Albion on the opening day as the season after the defender’s goal cancelled out The Baggies’ opener. Forest were forced to settle for a point in the end and O’Neill believes that the side had the chances to win the game.
She said: “We definitely had some chances where we could have maybe won the game.
“We were very disappointed to come away with a point.
“But we have to take the positives and there were plenty and we have to be satisfied with a point on the board away from home.”
Forest’s next game is this Sunday as they entertain East Midlands rivals Derby County at Eastwood Community Football Club and O’Neill looks ahead to the tie.
“We know what we have to improve on and it’s the finer details,” she said.
“We’re getting better and better each time we train and play.
“We have a great feeling in the group and we can’t wait to try and go one further and get three points against derby at home this Sunday.”
Supporters are welcome to attend this weekend’s fixture and O’Neill explains it would be ‘amazing’ to see a strong crowd backing The Reds.
O’Neill said: “It would be amazing to get lots of supporters safely down to Eastwood to enjoy the game.
“It will be a great atmosphere as it always is against Derby.
“It’s always a close game and definitely an enjoyable one for the fans and players.”