Goals from Nadia Khan and Charlotte Dinsdale either side of the half secured a 2-0 victory for the Belles away at Wem Town.
It was a confident and relentless start for Andy Butler’s side with full backs Izzy Trevillion and Sophie Bell offering attacking options while skipper Jess Andrew was able to dictate through the middle of the park. Her exquisite pass to find Trevillion gave Belles a good chance to take the lead within two minutes when the left back cut the ball back to Khan. Khan was ultimately crowded out and she was only able to win a corner which was headed narrowly wide by Andrew.
Lily Harrison registered the first shot on target on the 4th minute – this time play came via Bell down the right – while shortly after Jess Price’s effort from distance clattered off the crossbar.
Wem Town Ladies played their way into the game and the match became more end-to-end.
Abby Sheriff fired over from distance before Laura Morris forced Ellie Sharpe into her first of stop of the afternoon. Harrison would have been frustrated not to hit the target when the ball fell to her inside the six-yard box before Sharpe made a string of saves to keeper her side level. The best of these was down to her right to tip Katie Doster’s curling effort – which looked destined for the bottom corner - around the post.
Andrew and Trevillion registered a few hopeful efforts from distance and a cross required intervention from keeper Toran Kelly. The closest Belles went this period was a dipping effort from Andrew which flew narrowly over the crossbar, though the best chance fell to Khan when Andrew – who was at the heart at everything good the Belles were doing – released her with a great through ball. The No.7 cut inside by the defender stabbed the ball away just as she was winding up the shot.
Belles brighter finish to the half bore fruit in added time. A brilliantly timed tackle by Tilly Fantom won the ball high up the pitch. It was worked to Andrew who found Bell. The right-back got to the by-line and fired the ball across the goal-line for Khan to tap in from close range.
The home side started the second side the stronger – Doster effort rolled all the way across the front of Sharpe’s goal before finally being cleared and Sharpe needed to be alert to deny an effort from distance.
With nearly an hour played, Belles started to get a bit more control. Bell found Harrison with a cutback, but the young forward’s first-time volley was skewed wide while Charlotte Dinsdale was only able to nod wide from Lindsey Tugby’s free kick delivery.
Dinsdale made no mistakes seven minutes later when she met another fantastic delivery by Tugby – this time from a corner – and nodded into the top corner to extend the Belles lead. This had followed a superb save from shot-stopper Kelly to deny Harrison.
With the home side chasing a two-goal deficit, they began to push higher and higher up the pitch, but the Belles defence stood strong and snuffed out the chances before they developed while Wem Town’s defensive highline gave Khan and Bell – who had moved upfront as part of some second half tactical changes – space to exploit.
Khan used her pace to completely outsprint the Wem Town defence, but her shot was saved comfortably at the near post while Bell forced a couple of last-ditch defensive challenges from Francesca Waltho.
The win sees Belles close the gap to league-leaders Lincoln City.