It was a weekend for the home sides in WSL 2 as the Belles, Spurs, Brighton and Sheffield all scooped maximum points at home to the Bees, Durham, Villa and Oxford, Millwall the only away side to come away with a win on their trip to Watford.
Gifted the lead four minutes in when Katie Wilkinson added to her tally for the season from the spot, the Bees weren’t up for long as Jess Sigsworth fired an equaliser home from the opposite spot 15 minutes later. A team with a spotless record against the Bees, the Belles edged the tie, taking the lead early in the second half, Maz Pacheco’s corner nodded on by Leandra Little for Sigsworth to nip home from very close range. On top in the match as well as on the scoreline, the hosts cemented their victory with a late third, Kirsty Hanson’s tenth league goal of the season, a well-taken volley.
Durham barely had time to draw breath in the opening exchanges, the visitors down by three in the opening seven minutes. After Wendy Martin had flicked Sarah Wiltshire’s pinpoint cross home, Bianca Baptiste scored two in as many minutes, her fifth minute corner whipped in and dropped behind the line by Helen Alderson. The experienced ‘keeper left red-faced immediately after the restart, pressurised by Martin the Durham number one could only send the ball out to Baptiste for the striker to slot home.
With the wind picking up and the Wildcats with more than a little ground to make up, Megan Borthwick came on in place of Alderson on the quarter hour as the visitors looked for some rhythm. A Beth Hepple goal from range at the end of the first half gave Durham something to build on after the break, Nicki Gears with her own quick-fire brace in the second half. With handball appeals waved away by the referee, Gears wrapped the ball through the box and into the far side of the net four minutes after the break before equalising at an uncleared corner five minutes later.
The match was far from over however and a strike from Wiltshire just inside the area saw Borthwick beaten for the first time. With Durham pushing for another equaliser, Spurs found an all-import fifth, Wiltshire’s replacement, Ronnell Humes needing just five minutes before volleying home from close range. The match out of reach, the hosts finished with a flourish, second half substitute Lucia Leon allowed to sprint into the box, in the right place to fire an attempted clearance home.
Keeping themselves third with the win, the Seagulls reaped the reward from a dominant first half at home to Villa. In fine form right now, Ebony Salmon saw the first chance of the match, seconds after the whistle but a weak effort kept the hosts from going behind early, the team revving into the match. The deadlock was broken sixteen minutes in when Ini Umotong slipped through before playing in Kirsty Barton, the latter calm to roll the ball under Aja Aguirre. After cannoning the bar twice the hosts found a cushion when Umotong beat her marker before sending the ball home for the fifth goal of the season.
Outplayed but not outclassed, the visitors pulled one back on the hour when Tash Baptiste controlled the ball perfectly to bring it down and volley over Lucy Gillet, a late push not enough for a point.
Scoring four for third match on the spin, Sheffield hit the U’s for four in a frantic fifteen-minute spell in the second half to take them up to 18 points for the season. Denied well before the break, the hosts moved up through the gears after their switched ends, Emma Johnson’s sloppy first goal enough to unlock the floodgates. A hammer from Hannah Cain followed a handful of minutes later before Johnson bagged her second with a perfectly struck free kick from just outside the box.
Despite clearing the ball off of the line twenty minutes into the second half, the ball worked its way out to Jenna Dear who unleashed a vicious half-volley to have Demi Lambourne beaten again. Finally having plugged the leaks, Oxford kept the rampant hosts out for the rest of the match, late substitute Georgia Timms heading home a consolation with her first touch.
Against the weakest defence in the league, Millwall took an early and commanding lead in Kings Langley, Ashlee Hincks’ quick-fire brace leaving Watford on the back-foot eight minutes in. Finding some form, the hosts stemmed the tide and got forward well enough though failing to take their chances couldn’t claw anything back before half time. Another good spell from the Golden Girls saw them close but not close enough, a quick counter enough for the Lionesses’ third, Rianna Dean sharp to pounce on the hour. Making a flurry of saves throughout, Fran Kitching was left to pick the ball out of her net once more five minutes later, Amber Gaylor’s effort from range too much for the Chelsea loanee. On a hat trick but unable to convert from 12-yards, Hincks’ powered a late penalty against the bar as the match wore to its inevitable conclusion.