Belles returned to winning ways as Nadia Khan’s second-half goal sealed a deserved victory away at Peterborough United Women.
On a sunny day in south Lincolnshire and in front of a bumper attendance of 376 at Abbey Lawn, it was the hosts who had the better of the early chances, with Belles keeper Ellie Sharpe having to be alert to a shot-cum-cross from Cassie Steward that she had to help over the bar.
Belles started to make their mark on the game and on eight minutes a Holly Housley free-kick cleared the bar. On thirteen minutes a pin-point through-ball from the ever-busy Lindsey Tugby played in Sophie Scargill but the ball ran away from her just as she was shaping up to shoot from eight yards.
Belles continued with their attacking intent, looking to get play wide and in particular use the pace of Nadia Khan down the left, who was causing problems for The Posh defence. On twenty-eight minutes, this strategy nearly paid off when good link up play between Housley and Khan found debutant striker Otandeka Laki on the edge of the box. Laki took the ball on, cut in past a couple of defenders and was unlucky to see her shot just clear the bar.
The hosts started to come back into the game, with a couple of long-distance shots that didn’t trouble Sharpe and the Belles’ defence looked composed in breaking up any Posh attacks. On thirty-five minutes Izzy Gigg and Tugby combined to find Chloe Dean on the right, whose cross into the box was met by Laki, but again put her shot over the bar. Dean was starting to come more into the game down the right and on forty-four minutes her cross to the back post found Khan, but her shot was blocked and ran through to Neive Corry in the home goal.
Posh started the second-half strongly and on fifty minutes had a great opportunity to take the lead when Evie Driscoll-King met a corner to the back post but put her powerful shot into the side netting. Belles responded by taking the game back to the hosts, and the influential Housley nearly gave the visitors the lead when she received the ball on the edge of the box, dropped her shoulder to dummy her marker and shoot powerfully just over.
Belles had been strong in build-up all game, and the pressure finally told on fifty-two minutes through an expansive passage of play: a Posh attack was broken up by Olivia Harness and picked by Andrew, who played the ball to Dean out on the wide right. Dean moved the ball inside to Gigg who then passed to Scargill and then on to Tugby, who found Khan out on the wide left. Khan cut into the box, out-paced her marker and shot low and hard into the bottom right-hand corner for her second goal of the campaign.
The hosts responded with a strong run down the left by Kier Perkins who outpaced the Belles defence, but her powerful shot went wide of the post with Sharpe at full stretch. However, Belles were in determined mood and continued to have most of the play and stifle the home attack. At the other end captain Jess Andrew was unable to turn Housley’s corner into the net, finding the side netting instead. On sixty-six minutes Gigg broke down the right and found Dean, whose cross was met by Laki with a superb volley that she was unlucky to see go wide. The move was repeated on seventy-four minutes, this time Laki shooting straight at Corry.
Nick Buxton made changes on seventy-eight minutes with Halima Essa and Ryley Johnson replaced the hard-working Durkin and Dean. On eighty-three minutes the impressive Housley nearly doubled the lead when she shot powerfully from twenty yards, forcing Corry into a great save that she turned around the post at full stretch. In the last meaningful attack of the game a minute later, Corry was again called on - this time to deny Harness in a one-on-one in the six yard box as the Belles defender got on the end of an Andrew cross and looked to shoot.