Salford City Lionesses ran out deserved winners against Chester FC Women after a controlled performance yielded a 6-2 win.
Abby Bennett scored twice while Feiruz Abdullahi, Beth Tattersall, Laura Tobin and Ellen Thornton completed the scoring, with both of Chester’s goals coming with their only real attacks of the game.
Midfielder Bennett started the game brightly, as you would expect from a player who has been on top form this season, and as early as the second minute tested Olivia Cooke. A free kick 25 yards out and just right of centre was inviting, but Bennett dragged it wide.
However in the 11th minute she did break the deadlock after dancing through three or four attempted challenges before firing low into the bottom left corner.
It could have been two a couple of minutes later as Abdullahi bent her run in behind from the left and pulled a pass back to Antonia Carta at the top of the area. Unfortunately the midfielder couldn’t keep her shot down and fired over the bar.
Abdullahi took charge of the next opportunity herself and made good on it. Chester tried to play out from the back, but the forward won possession on the right and set off towards the box where she pulled the trigger and fired past Cooke. The keeper kept a third out a minute later to deny Bennett a second.
The Lionesses were in complete control, but just before the half hour mark pulled one back when Rachel Lever broke away on the left and scored past Jess Duke.
In retaliation, Tattersall advanced on the right and crossed a teasing ball into the area which was heading for the top right corner. Cooke pushed the cross round the post for a corner which Abdullahi fired over at the back post.
Chelsea Wharton, Tobin and Bennett all had further chances to extend the lead, but it was Tattersall in the 44th minute who restored the two-goal cushion. Tobin dribbled forward on the left and squared a pass into Tattersall’s path, and the captain took a touch before shooting across goal and out of Cooke’s reach.
HALF TIME: Salford City Lionesses 3-1 Chester FC Women
After kicking the half off, Tobin went close to making it four within a minute as her header from a Tattersall cross skimmed off the crossbar
In the 53rd minute Bennett did make it four though with her second of the game. Having won possession in the middle, she was forced out wide but beat her defender and made her way back in field along the byline. What may have been a cross turned out to be an excellent shoot as from a tight angle, the keeper was nutmegged and Bennett found the back of the net even to her disbelief.
Five minutes later Tobin found the back of the net with a composed finish into the far post from the left hand side of the area, and The Lionesses were well out of reach.
Despite Chester pulling one back in the 65th minute after Salford switched off at the back, it was the hosts who were in firm control with possession in the middle of the park. Pip Wakfield had a chance after coming off the bench when Abdullahi found her in space in the area, but her shot was blocked on the line and Chester cleared.
Fellow substitute Jess Lawson also had a sniff with a shot from outside the area which bounced slightly wide, but wasn’t a bad effort.
The goal which had been coming finally arrived in the 87th minute though, Ellen Thornton poking home after Stacey Barley’s cross came off a Chester defender and was heading towards the net anyway. Thornton, having got up the pitch, made sure it went over and of the three points.
FULL TIME: Salford City Lionesses 6-2 Chester FC Women
Dominant, controlling, and all round a very good performance which showed that what happened at Chester a few weeks ago was a one-off. The Lionesses are settling well at this level, and although a second clean sheet was elusive this afternoon there is enough about them going forward to nullify that attribute.
Next weekend is a top of the table clash at Curzon Ashton, who are four points behind with three games in hand. The Nash have made an unbelievable start to the season with five wins out of five, but won’t want to give that record up too easily.