LOUGHBOROUGH FOXES 7 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 0
FA WOMEN’S NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTHERN PREMIER DIVISION
LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY STADIUM, SUNDAY 19th AUGUST 2018
Click here for the match report from QPR’s website
Loughborough Foxes marked their return to Premier Division level with a 7-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers at the University Stadium on Sunday in a game that could scarcely have been more comfortable for the home side.
With the visitors beginning their fifth successive season in the Southern Division, they provided a good yardstick of the Foxes ambitions to achieve a mid-table finish, and on this evidence that is certainly a realistic aim.
The Foxes line-up contained a number of changes from last season’s invincibles. Ahead of regular stopper Amy Burle, the back four saw the addition of new signing Ria Acton at right back and Shiv Eastham at right centre back after recovering from a broken leg sustained in the FA Cup at Redditch United last season. Jodie Bartle shifted across to left centre back with Hattie Simes at left fullback. Ahead of them were captain Shauna Chambers, Chloe Young and Katie Lowder with Charlotte Cooper leading the attack supported by Beckys Knight and McGrother.
Foxes were on the offensive from the start and were soon rewarded. Ria Acton was already showing what a good addition she will be when, in the third minute, a surging run took her into the QPR penalty area. Cooper squared to Becky McGrother who swept home to give the Foxes a dream start.
The home side continued to play with confidence and had a number of efforts on goal before QPR had a brief period of pressure during which Amy Burle pushed one shot onto her crossbar and acrobatically diverted another over the top. This proved to be the sum total of QPR’s threat on the day, as the Foxes proceeded to take complete command by half time. More good attacking play by Acton led to Cooper scrambling the ball home to give Foxes the breathing space they deserved. Within two minutes Chambers scored with a screamer from outside the box which probably nailed down the Foxes goal of the season award just 22 minutes into the season.
There followed a bizarre incident where Cooper calmly brought down a cross from Knight and finished clinically. The referee awarded the goal and then, despite the lack of a linesman’s flag and seemingly on the advice of Rangers defenders, changed his mind. The decision to restart with a drop ball made it even more puzzling.
The Foxes weren’t denied for long however and Katie Lowder grabbed the fourth eight minutes before the break.
Any thoughts that the Foxes would take their foot off the pedal after the interval were soon dispelled as Becky McGrother scored an even quicker goal than she had in the first half, heading in a Becky Knight cross just over a minute after the restart. Foxes continued to dominate but had shots from Hattie Simes and substitute Eva Rogers blocked on the line, while a Chloe Young header struck the top of the crossbar.
As the game passed the 90 minute mark, there was still time for Foxes to add to the scoreline twice more. Firstly Charlotte Cooper ran onto a lovely dinked through ball from Shauna Chambers and lofted the ball over the on-rushing keeper.
Two minutes later a low driven cross from Ria Acton led to a QPR defender diverting the ball into her own net. With Portsmouth winning 6-0 at C&K Basildon, this was the goal that ensured Foxes ended their first weekend back in the Premier Division sitting at the top of the table.
Clearly there will be stiffer tests to come than a QPR side that had only picked up 8 points in each of the last two seasons, but seven goals and a clean sheet made this the perfect start.
The Foxes return to action at 2pm next Sunday, away at Watford.