Salford City Lionesses continued their 100% start to the season with an 8-0 win away at Barr Hill Ladies, whose own perfect start came to an end.
The Lionesses were four goals up at half time thanks to goals from Beth Tattersall, a first for Fliss Winters, Laura Tobin and another first for Rach Smith.
Feiruz Abdullahi then came off the bench to score a hat-trick in the second half, with Ellen Thornton completing the scoring with a well taken volley.
Despite the threat of Storm Callum, the game went ahead as planned and immediately it was the visitors who were blowing a gale of their own as captain Tattersall opened the scoring. What seemed a routine clearance down the left-hand side turned into a chance for the winger as she latched onto the ball and placed a shot across goal into the bottom right-hand corner.
The early storm continued in the sixth minute as Annabel Ainscough swung a great ball in from the right-hand side which Tobin headed in the middle, only for the keeper to parry. Tattersall was following in and reached the parried ball, but she could only head wide of the target.
Ainscough was finding herself plenty of space on the right on her first start of the season, and in the 12th minute sent another inviting cross into the area after a move that started with Jess Duke at the back, but this time the Barr Hill keeper got in front of Tobin to catch the cross.
The keeper wasn’t so forthcoming when Chelsea Wharton delivered a free-kick into the area, and the quality of the delivery was such that Winters saw the chance to attack the cross and head in her first of the season. She could have added a second a minute later as Ainscough ran onto a mistake by the Barr Hill backline and sent a cross in from the right which Winters arrived to meet, but this time the header was saved.
Having looked competitive in the opening 20 minutes, Barr Hill’s frustrations were being drawn out and poor decisions begin made, particularly at the back where they were struggling to clear the ball. Salford’s third of the afternoon came about from such a situation as the ball came to the feet of Tobin who shifted left inside the area to open up half a yard from which she could curl a shot past the unsighted keeper and make it 3-0.
The hosts should have pulled a goal back just before the half hour mark, but were denied by a combination of Duke and then the woodwork. Hill’s number nine had the first chance as she latched onto a through ball, with the Salford defence waiting for an offside call that didn’t comer, but one-on-one with Duke, the Salford stopper smothered the chance at the expense of a corner. That was swung in with some venom from the left and met by the head of a blue shirt to direct it goal wards, but all the hosts held their breath as it bounded off the post and Salford cleared it to safety.
Shortly before half time Tattersall could have scored a second as she again exploited the space left between the defence and the goalkeeper, but the keeper threw herself at the captain’s feet and smothered the chance.
However a fourth was still to come in the 43rd minute, and again it was a brilliant assist courtesy of Wharton. Smith was fouled as she drove forward out of the back, midway inside the Barr Hill half, and Wharton took responsibility for the set piece. It was a bit too far out for a shot, so Wharton floated in a cross and it was Smith of all people who got to the header and flicked it over the keeper into the back of the net.
Half Time: Barr Hill Ladies 0-4 Salford City Lionesses
Except Duke’s save and the hitting the post, Barr Hill hadn’t seen much of the ball or territory and their perfect start was well and truly in jeopardy. The pattern of the game didn’t change in the second period though and Abdullahi worsened things for the hosts in the 53rd minute. Possession came to the top scorer on the left-hand side and worked her way into the area before taking on a shot from an impossibly tight angle which somehow found it’s way inside the keeper and her near post.
The chances weren’t so regular in the second half and it was 68 minutes before another chance came, and it was down to lack of judgement by Barr Hill. Mia Pemberton picked up possession on the left-hand side again, where Salford were finding lots of space, and crossed a ball in. A call came from the keeper who looked to reach the cross, but the ball slipped though her hands and dropped for Abdullahi to tap in from a couple of yards out. Her hat-trick came in the 77th minute as she smashed in a loose ball from Tobin’s blocked shot.
As the game wore on, so did Barr Hill and Abby Bennett tested them with a shot that sailed over the bar.
The best was yet to come from The Lionesses though as they made it 8-0. Ainscough on the right crossed a ball towards the top of the area where Thornton was arriving, and the centre-back-turned-centre-forward took a shot on the volley that flew into the top right corner, leaving the keeper with no chance.
There were two late chances, both from free-kicks, but Wharton and Bennett’s efforts were both saved.