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Leicester City WFC 6 Sheffield FC 0
Leicester City WFC blew away table topping Sheffield FC with a stunning 6-0 win in their Northern Division encounter.
A Natalie Reay hat-trick was the highlight, but this was a true team performance against dangerous opponents who created a number of good scoring opportunities but had no luck at all at either end of the pitch.
Both teams could have scored twice in a whirlwind start. Leicester keeper Nicola Van De Weerdhof saved at point blank range, while opposite number Jess Horsley dived to turn away a Shona Franklin effort. The Leicester keeper then did well to block Jodie Michalska's shot before Natasha Hughes cleared the Sheffield striker's follow up effort off the line. Reay had two dangerous corners from the right punched away by Horsley as the home side threatened again, all this within five minutes.
It was from the left that Reay scored the first, her wickedly inswinging corner lodging in the angle of post and bar on 15 minutes.
The Foxes swung into overdrive to be three ahead by 20 minutes. Issy Hayes took advantage of an underhit back pass to round Horsley and score, then a superb passing movement betwwen Reay, Franklin and Destiney Toussaint cut the defence apart to allow Reay to drill a 15-yard shot past the Sheffield keeper.
The League leaders nearly got back into the contest when Michalska sent in a powerful effort from wide on the right, well saved by Van De Weerdhof and Ellie Gilliatt was just unable to force the ball in at full stretch beyond the far post. Reay was close to her hat-trick, but her effort was blocked by Tash Cooke, the frantic pace slowing slightly as the break approached.
The visitors really needed to reduce the deficit but instead fell further behind on 41 minutes when Hayes got her second with a lovely cushioned volley from close range for a 4-0 interval lead .
With the outcome effectively settled, Sheffield sought to restore some pride and continued to push forward to exert sustained pressure on the home defence. Lisa Giampalma was increasingly involved on the right wing, forcing a good save from Van De Weerdhof from a corner before, again, misfortune struck Sheffield as a low cross was turned past Horsley by Melissa Cook for Leicester's fifth on 57 minutes. Reay was denied her third by a fine save as Leicester threatened to further embarrass the visitors on the hour.
Sheffield pressed forward relentlessly but were generally frustrated by a solid back four well marshalled by captain Sammy Morris and her fellow defenders. When they finally breached the rearguard, Van De Weerdhof denied Michalska again with a brilliant one handed reaction save on 81 minutes to prevent a well deserved consolation.
In keeping with a day when little went right for the visitors, Horsley was beaten for the sixth time on 90 minutes. After making a brave block to deny Franklin on the edge of the area, the ball was crossed to Reay on the far post who joyfully completed her hat-trick.
Having risen directly from Regional league level in two seasons, Sheffield will surely see this setback as just 'one of those days'. Leicester were fast, fluent and inventive in attack, solid at the back after a shaky start, with a keeper in fine form. Whatever the league leaders tried was well countered by opponents who themselves had a meteoric rise through the leagues but are now used to fighting for promotion at this level. Other results allolwed the women's section, formed in 2003, of 'the 'oldest club in the world ' to remain on top of the Northern Division while Leicester City looked a good bet to challenge their position in the coming weeks.
Leicester City WFC: Nicola Van De Weerdhof, Annabel Johnson, Leah Rawle, Katie McLaughlin, Natasha Hughes, Sammy Morris, Natalie Reay, Destiney Toussaint, Issy Hayes, Shona Franklin, Katie Lowder. Subs: Natalie Johnson, Brogan Jones, Vicky Gallagher, Holly Morgan.
Sheffield FC: Jess Horsley, Steph Spence, Tash Cooke, Ellie Gilliatt, Melissa Cook, Christina Wright, Kayleigh Mitchell, Lisa Giampalma, Carla Ward, Leanne De Silva, Jodie Michalska. Subs: Nicole Jepson, Kerry Parkin, Lauren Davids, Michelle Fletcher, Amy Owen.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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