Loughborough Foxes ran out comfortable winners at home to Leicester City Ladies on Thursday night.
The Foxes received a boost ahead of the fixture when early season front runners TNS fell to a defeat the previous evening, surprisingly beaten 5-2 at home to Sporting Khalsa.
Laura Steele returned to the starting line-up, taking the armband with Shauna Chambers amongst the subs. Victoria Brackenbury was absent, so Jodie Bartle moved into the centre with Pip Cassidy at right back. Becky Matlock reverted to full back with Hattie Simes also on the bench. Eva Rogers replaced Charlotte Cooper up top with Laura Dexter, fresh from her two goals for the reserves last Sunday, replacing Matlock in the wide left position.
The pattern of play was exactly as expected with the ball constantly in the City half. They initially tried to play out from the back, but the Foxes’ press regularly caught them out and they soon resorted to long clearances. The only surprise was that it took 20 minutes for the breakthrough. A regular theme of the evening was shots going straight at the City keeper, with Foxes players seemingly being too careful with their attempts. The breakthrough finally came from a left wing cross by Tugby, briefly having switched sides, that Chloe Young, unmarked eight yards out, glanced just inside the far post.
It was another 18 minutes of one way traffic before the second arrived. Young was again the scorer, making a great burst from midfield onto a through ball from Tugby. Young’s shot was another straight at the keeper, but had enough on it to go through her hands and over the line. The third soon followed with Dexter tapping in from close range for her first senior goal. 3-0 at the break.
The match continued in the same vein after the interval, and seven minutes in Eastham was fouled and Laura Steele scored her second brilliant direct free kick of the season from the resulting set piece. The fifth goal saw Chloe Young complete her hat-trick on the hour mark with a close range finish after a pull back from Becky Matlock. Matlock then got the sixth herself with an unusually long range finish by her standards – it was close to ten yards. Right foot too, stabbing home the rebound from a shot by player of the match Eva Rogers.
Substitute Frankie Wilson wrapped up the scoring with her first senior goal. The 7-0 scoreline was no more than Foxes deserved.