A dull, dismal afternoon at the Fibrus Community Stadium was brightened up by an excellent Reds’ performance which produced their best win of the campaign. They had lost 4-2 at Radcliffe two months ago so to avenge that loss in style was very satisfying, no doubt.
And they had to overcome an early setback before powering their way to a fourth win of the season.
Radcliffe cashed in on a bit of defensive uncertainty to take a fifth minute lead with Anna Keelin lobbing the ball over Laura Miller for the opening goal.
But Reds responded immediately and, not only did they equalise, established a two- goal lead inside an eventful opening fifteen minutes.
They were back on terms after seven minutes after good work by Chloe Henderson, Hayley Bracken and Bea Barber. The latter’s shot was heading goalwards but was actually put into her own net by a Radcliffe defender.
But there was no doubt about Reds second goal five minutes later when Barber was on hand to score from close range after Bracken’s original shot had rebounded conveniently off the foot of the post.
And they made it 3-1 with just a quarter of an hour on the clock when Morgan McGrady’s attempt at goal turned out to be a good assist for Bracken who blasted home her eighth goal of the season in typical fashion.
The rain got heavier but the goals dried up until Bracken was at it again just before the interval. A ball over the top unlocked the Radcliffe back line and Reds’ top scorer took advantage to finish with aplomb.
Reds had bossed the midfield in the opening half with the experienced trio of Chloe Henderson, Linzi Donaldson and Helen Wagstaff all outstanding. They protected the back four when necessary and were providing good service to the front runners.
Radcliffe came more into the picture after the break and reduced the arrears just past the hour mark when a great cross from the right was converted at the far post by Sophie Coates for the sixth goal of the game.
And it took a world class save from Miller to prevent another Radcliffe goal as the visitors tried, in vain, to get back into the game.
Barber had a shot well saved at the other end and then released Hannah Geen in stoppage time. Geen (pictured) advanced on goal before scoring Reds fifth, a well-deserved first of the season for her, to complete a fine, all round team display.
Team: Laura Miller, Sophie Birkett, Naomi Foster, Nat Hooper, Chloe Henderson, Linzi Donaldson, Helen Wagstaff, Bea Barber, Hayley Bracken, Morgan McGrady. Substitutes – Hannah Geen, Hannah Ridgewell, Eleanor McDonald, Keeley Holliday, Rowan Williams (all used)