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Rovers run riot in first league win

October 11th 2021
Ollie Smith

Forest Green Rovers Women earned their first league win of the season, with a 12-0 demolition of Bideford AFC Women at Chalford Sports and Social Club on Sunday afternoon.

Head Coach Chris Hicks made two changes to the starting XI from last week’s impressive 5-1 win over Almondsbury in the Vitality Women’s FA Cup - Charlie Rowlands in for Annie Martin and Kayleigh Hateley in for Louise Fensome.

Fast starts are starting to become a common theme for Rovers, with Hicks’ side looking to move the ball quickly and attack with speed from minute one at Chalford.

Zoe Boyd and Nynka Rucker combined down the right hand side early on, with the duo using their electric pace and nifty passing to beat the Bideford left-back.

With just four minutes on the clock, Rovers opened the scoring. Charlie Rowlands made a great run in behind the Bideford backline, before receiving the ball in plenty of space and calmly finishing past the on-rushing goal-keeper to give her side an early lead.

Rowlands almost doubled the hosts’ advantage minutes later but the striker couldn't quite direct her header goalwards, after a tempting cross from Hattie Jones.

Rucker continued to look a threat down the right flank, with the winger sending in a cross for Sam Morris, with Rovers’ number five fiercely striking the ball on a volley that just sailed over the crossbar

Hicks’ side were causing problems with their direct runs and quick passing, with several players having luck getting in behind the Bideford defence.

Rovers earned themselves a corner with 13 minutes played and Rucker stepped up to deliver an inch-perfect cross to the back post, where Jones was on hand to volley it home and double her side’s lead.

The hosts were experiencing plenty of chances and possession, with Rucker, Rowlands and Sian Towler all enjoying efforts on goal.

Then, with half an hour played, Rovers made it 3-0. Ella Hitchcox went on a surging run, before picking out Jones inside the box, who was primed and poised to fire the ball into the Bideford net for a second time.

That’s an impressive four goals in two games for the attacking midfielder, who is currently in a rich vein of goalscoring form for Hicks’ side.

Rovers continued to dominate as the first half came to an end, with the hosts’ defence rarely troubled by the visiting Bideford.

With half-time just seconds away, Charlie Rowlands pulled off a skilful turn using her quick feet in the box, before poking home past the Bideford ‘keeper to send Rovers into the break with a four goal advantage.

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Following a comprehensive, fantastic first-half showing from his team, Hicks made two substitutions prior to the second-half - Jones and Rosie Dimery making way for Paige Todd and Le Parry.

Chances fell to Hitchcox, Rucker and Boyd early on in the second-half, with both wingers driving at goal from out wide before shooting and Boyd now plying her trade further forward in the middle of the park after a formation change from Hicks.

The hosts then made it five seven minutes into the second-half, with Sian Towler getting in on the goalscoring action. Rovers’ number seven slotted it into the Bideford net after some great work from Boyd teed her up in the box.

Hicks brought on Charlotte Robins for Towler a few minutes later, with all three of his substitutes putting in impressive shifts from off the bench.

With just over 60 minutes played at Chalford, Rovers were far from finished with their goal scoring action.

Kayleigh Hateley scored twice in quick succession to make Bideford’s afternoon even worse and provide her side with a seven goal advantage.

The central midfielder fiercely thumped the back of the net with two back-to-back long-range strikes beating the visitors’ goalkeeper emphatically.

Rovers were in cruise control now, with the ladies looking dangerous in almost every attack.

Hitchcox netted to make it 8-0 before Rowlands capped off an eye-catching performance at the top of the field by firing home to secure her hat-trick just minutes later.

The hosts’ captain Ashleigh Watson showed her previous experience playing as a striker, to tap home Rovers’ tenth goal of the game.

Towler and Watson both scored again late on to seal a breathtaking 12-0 win for Rovers, marking their first win of the South West Regional Premier Division in stunning style.

Hicks’ side now have plenty of momentum and confidence behind them following back-to-back impressive victories the last two weeks, with the 5-1 FA Cup win over Almondsbury and now today’s thrilling 12-0 victory against Bideford - which sees Rovers climb up to 6th in the league table.

Up next for Rovers is a trip to Longwell Green on Sunday October 17, for a Gloucestershire Women’s Challenge Cup fixture.

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