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Bristol Academy 2 (Ingle 51, Watts 55)
Notts County 5 (A.Whelan 13, Williams 32,78, F.Whelan 34, Greenwood pen 89)
Notts County notched up their first victory of the WSL 1 season with a commanding win against managerless Bristol Academy at Stoke Gifford.
The home side went into the game under the guidance of caretaker manager Lauren Smith and the early signs were good as Academy looked lively going forward with Loren Dykes looking sharp on the left.
County did have the first attempt on goal with Danielle Buet shooting wide but Academy responded well with another Dykes run culminating with Sophie Ingle bringing out a save from Carly Telford.
Telford needed to be alert to make a smothering save at the feet of Nikki Watts whilst at the other end, Mary Earps saved a Buet free kick at full stretch after it had skipped dangerously off the wet surface.
County opened the scoring with a superb passing move which started right from the back, initiated by Laura Bassett. Leanne Crichton exchanged passes with Jess Clarke and found Ellen White, whose pass released Aileen Whelan in space on the left. Whelan cut inside a challenge from Frankie Brown before burying her shot past Earps and into the corner of the net.
The visitors began to take control of matters and almost doubled their lead when Buet's free kick was glanced goalwards by White but Dykes was well placed to clear off the line.
The pressure eventually told and this time Aileen Whelan turned provider for the second goal, clipping a cross into the area where Rachel Williams swept the ball home on the volley.
Before Academy could recover, they found themselves three goals behind. After conceding a free kick near the touchline, Alex Greenwood's cross picked out Fern Whelan who rose highest to power a firm header past Earps.
Academy tried to hit back with Grace McCatty's pass finding Dykes in the area but her low shot was well saved by Telford and County took their three-goal lead going into the interval.
The home side came out for the second half in determined fashion and a defensive error quickly brought them back into the game. There seemed no initial danger to County from Earps' long clearance but Bassett and Fern Whelan crashed into each other when trying to clear, Watts picked up the loose ball and squared for Ingle to slot the ball past Telford.
Suddenly Academy grew in confidence and just four minutes later, Angharad James crossed from the left, the County defence could not clear and Watts took one touch before drilling her shot beyond Telford's dive and into the far corner of the net.
The spirited fightback lifted the home crowd and with Christie Murray also looking lively up front, the possibility of an equaliser became a real prospect. However, County rode out the storm without any more major scares before dealing a devastating blow with twelve minutes remaining.
Greenwood had had an excellent match at the back and made an interception to drive down the left before picking out Williams with an inch perfect pass in the area, the striker's first touch was an assured one and she planted her shot past Earps to restore the two-goal advantage.
Clarke hit the side netting after bursting down the right and White shot straight at Earps following more good work by Greenwood but the Lady Pies crowned the win as injury time approached. Academy looked to have averted the initial danger but as Brown went to clear, Aileen Whelan nipped to take the ball away and was brought down by the defender's attempted clearance. A penalty was awarded and Greenwood stepped up to thump her shot into the roof of the net to put the seal on a good night for Rick Passmoor's side.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Frankie Brown, Loren Dykes, Jaz Matthews, Grace McCatty, Sophie Ingle, Angharad James, Hayley Ladd (sub Gabriella Bird 87mins), Christie Murray, Nikki Watts, Georgia Evans. Subs not used: Izzy Dalton, Sharla Passariello, Alex Hurst, Alice Evans.
Notts County: Carly Telford, Amy Turner, Alex Greenwood, Danielle Buet, Fern Whelan, Laura Bassett, Jess Clarke (sub Sophie Walton 81mins), Rachel Williams (sub Dunia Susi 89mins), Ellen White, Aileen Whelan, Leanne Crichton. Subs not used: Fiona O'Sullivan, Laura-Jayne O'Neill.
(top) Laura Bassett is pursued by Christie Murray
(middle) Aileen Whelan tries to get away from Angharad James
(bottom) Jess Clarke takes on Frankie Brown
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