Bristol Rovers Women's continued their winning streak in the South West Regional Women's League (Northern Division) with a 5-1 victory against Downend Flyers at Lockleaze Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon.
During the build up to Sunday's clash, the 'Gas Girls' were forced to prepare with eight players missing from the first-team squad due to a variety of light injuries, illnesses and availability issues. This in turn meant that some players were required fulfil different role and to play outside of their usual, more comfortable positions. Katie Rawlings was once again brought back into central defence alongside Alva Lang, Vice-Captain Libby Bell dropped into a holding role while Zoe Fielden-Stewart made her first appearance as an attacking midfielder. New Development Team signing Rhiannon D'arcy was also named on the substitutes bench alongside Assistant Manager Lottie Weeks.
Despite the squad issues that stalled preparations, things couldn't have got off to a better start for Rovers. Inside the first minute of the game, Libby Bell found herself in space 25 yards outside the box and looped a stunning strike over the goalkeeper to put the 'Gas Girls' in front.
The opening exchanges after the first goal witnessed a mixture of positive play in possession by Rovers, however unable to create any meaningful chances in front of goal. The visitors were also looking to utilise their strengths by playing balls into pockets of space for their pacey forward Faith Flynn to run onto. Stand in centre-back, Rawlings was on hand to intercept a couple of threats.
On the 23rd minute, a front post clearance from a Rovers corner made it's way back to Annys Turner who whipped in another cross for Fielden-Stewart to place her volley low into the bottom corner and double the 'Gas Girls' lead.
Five minutes before the break, Downend put themselves back in contention after Flynn converted a fine individual effort from a long ball within midfield. However it didn't take long for Rovers to respond. Fielden-Stewart won back possession and played a superb through ball straight into the path of Turner who calmly slotted home a third Rovers goal, into the bottom corner. The 'Gas Girls' went into the break with a 3-1 lead.
The early stages of the second half witnessed the 'Gas Girls' enjoy more possession and therefore growing in confidence. Kelly Cutler had a goal ruled out early on for offside, after reacting to a fumble from the Downend keeper.
Just after seventy minutes on the clock, patience was rewarded when a cross by Turner caused problems for the visitors defence, Jamie-Leigh Worlock collected the ball insdie the box and selflessly squared across to Cutler who fired home a fourth goal for Rovers.
Five minutes later it was another corner from Turner that troubled the Downend defence and the ball found it's way into the path of Jacqueline Maddock who slotted home from close range to make it five.
With eight players unavailable for various reasons, the 'Gas Girls' will be delighted to come away with another fantastic result and performance to continue their run in the South West Regional League, with players set to return this week.
Our Development Team were also in action on Sunday when they travelled to City of Gloucester Women's in the GFA Challenge Cup. The girls secured a 4-0 win with Zoe Jones netting a hat-trick and Gift Ihejieto rounding off the scorers.