A fine display from Amy Makewell capped a superb performance from Stevenage FCW as they swept fellow promotion chasers Needham Market aside in an action-packed second half. Further goals from Shianne Swarres, Jodie Bellinger and a brace off the bench from Emily Schofield completed the eventual rout for Boro.
The entertainment started early, literally, with the weather causing referee Neil Draper to bring kick off forward by 15 minutes. It took 5 minutes for Makewell to continue her run of games with a goal involvement as she laid a gorgeous through ball for Bellinger to control and drag inside before unleashing a powerful shot past Daisie Gibbs to give Stevenage an early lead.
Boro nearly doubled the advantage when Lucy Webster was fouled 25 yards from goal. Hannah Nebbitt’s left footed free kick beat Gibbs, but crashed off the crossbar and over. An equally good save was required down the other end when Lois Balfour sent a short free kick into the box for Amber Cantwell who fired a low shot goalwards forcing a smart save from Mia O’Brien.
Moments later, Bellinger returned the favour as her pass deflected into the path of Makewell who broke into the box and left Gibbs with no chance. However, as the half progressed, Needham grew into the game and were buoyed by an excellent strike from outside of the box by Eva Hubbard to reduce the arrears.
It was the second half that saw Stevenage impose themselves. They came out strongly and when Webster took a short free kick by the halfway line, Anna Re and Kelsey Millen linked up well down the right before sending the ball back to Webster on the edge of the box for her to cross low into the path of Schofield who turned home.
Next, Swarres tested Gibbs, foreshadowing later events, with a lofted shot that was too hot for Gibbs to handle. She parried the ball downwards and into the path of Schofield who had gambled in the box and smashed the ball low for Borough’s fourth and her second.
Five minutes later, Swarres struck. Millen worked hard down the right to feed Makewell, who with her back to goal laid off an inviting ball for Swarres. The Zimbabwean took her time, stepped outside and unleashed another lofted shot that cleared Gibbs and dipped under the bar.
Becky Shephard was next to try her luck from a free kick on the hour mark. Gibbs was equal to it and pushed it onto the bar and over, but Boro’ were relentless. Within minutes, Needham were on the back foot again and when the ball came into the box from the right again, it bounced up and caught the defender on the arm. After discussion with the assistant, the referee gave the penalty, which Makewell fired home, to Gibbs’ left.
Next came a crazy three minutes. Amy Gooderham, back from injury, settled into the game well and her ball in from the right was perfect for Makewell to complete her hat-trick. The ball immediately went down the other end where Molly Hall headed home at the far post for a consolation goal before Gooderham and Makewell repeated the trick from two minutes earlier, with Makewell scooping the ball into the net for her fourth goal.
The game ended with Gooderham taken off the pitch after going down on the far side of the field, with fans relieved to see her walking out of the changing rooms after the match. It was a pulsating affair and a statement win for Borough who maintain their charge on promotion.