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REPORT | Long Eaton United 0 Belles 9

20 September 2022


REPORT | Long Eaton United 0 Belles 9

20 September 2022

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New signing Shannon Durkin came off the bench to score a fifteen-minute hat-trick as Belles ran riot against a sorry Long Eaton United at Grange Park.

In a game they dominated from start to finish, Belles were unrelenting in their attacking approach and could have scored more goals against a side who struggled to deal with the pace, passing and movement of a team determined to respond to the disappointing defeat at Solihull.

Belles manager Andy Butler made four changes from the previous game, bringing in Georgia Wattam in goal for her debut, and handing starts to Holly Housley and Chloe Dean. Nadia Khan returned to the starting lineup after her successful international debut for Pakistan in the SAFF Women’s Championships in Nepal.

Following a minute’s silence in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the game got underway and it was not long before Belles signaled their attacking intent, as captain Jess Andrew headed narrowly over from a Holly Housley corner. Two minutes later, following good work by Chloe Dean down the right, Izzy Trevillion met Dean’s cross but her shot also went over the bar.

Belles continued to press as Housley again found space in the Long Eaton penalty box shooting just wide of the post, and should have taken the lead on nine minutes when Nadia Khan used her pace to beat her marker and round the keeper, but then put her shot wide.

However, on fourteen minutes Belles did go in front when a great move down the right and cross into the box was headed firmly goalwards by Sophie Brown, only to be parried out at point-blank range by keeper Laura Setchfield into the path of Housley, who shot into the top right hand corner.

Belles continued to relentlessly force the pace, and in the twenty-seventh minute doubled their advantage – this time on the break from a Long Eaton corner - when a long-range Brown clearance found Khan out on the wing who again beat her marker and crossed for Lindsey Tugby to control the ball and shoot into the corner of the net.

Four minutes later Belles went three up when Sophie Scargill intercepted a pass in the final third and played in Khan on the right, who chipped the ball past the advancing keeper and in off the post for her first goal of the season. Belles’ rotational wing play was causing big problems for the Long Eaton defence and the hosts were lucky not to go further behind before the break as both Brown and Harness playing out wide put in tempting crosses that just evaded Housley at the back post.

There was no let up for Long Eaton after the break. On forty-eight minutes, good work down the right and a cross to the back post by Tugby found Housley who passed the ball calmly into the net for Belles’ fourth and her second. Housley had continued to find space in the box all game and was unlucky not to get her hat-trick two minutes later when Khan unselfishly squared on the six-yard line, but was unable to poke the ball home.

Housley and Scargill then teamed up to feed Khan who shot past the post, and in the fifty-ninth minute a perfect through ball by Scargill split the home backline for Brown to take on and round the keeper, but she was desperately unlucky to see her shot hit the inside of the far post and bounce out.

That was to be Brown’s last contribution as on sixty-one minutes she was replaced by Eliza Bedford. On sixty-six minutes Belles went 5-0 up when captain Jess Andrew fired home a spectacular free-kick from 30 yards out on the left touchline that Setchfield in the Long Eaton goal could only watch go in under the bar.

On sixty-eight minutes, Andy Butler made his final changes, with Halima Essa, Izzy Gigg and Shannon Durkin replacing Olivia Harness, Nadia Khan and Holly Housley. Just a minute later, both Durkin and Essa nearly scored with their first touches as good work in succession by both Tugby and Gigg down the left fed in first Durkin whose shot hit the post and then Essa whose shot was deflected out for a corner.

However, it was not long before Durkin got on the scoresheet, when on seventy-three minutes she was played in by another defence-splitting pass – this time by Andrew – and lobbed the on-coming keeper from the edge of the box for her first goal for Belles. Two minutes later, Chloe Dean capped a solid performance by making it seven with a clean shot from the edge of the box into the top left hand corner.

On seventy-nine minutes, Tugby again worked the byline and found Durkin, whose shot was blocked and out for a corner, from which Gigg had her shot cleared off the line. Two minutes later, Dean nearly scored direct from her corner, but the ball hit the crossbar. However, on eighty-three minutes the constant pressure eventually told when Durkin picked up on another Scargill through-ball to beat the defence and slide the ball under Setchfield for her second.

The rout was completed on eighty-seven minutes when Gigg put Durkin in to round the keeper for her hat-trick and Belles’ ninth goal. There was still time for Belles to get into double figures when Essa crossed for Bedford to control the ball twelve yards out, but her shot skimmed the crossbar and out of play.

A consummate performance by the whole squad that sees Belles move up into fourth place in the league with a game in hand.

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