Wycombe Wanderers Ladies hotshot Ellie Searle grabbed four goals in a 10-goal thriller against Winchester City Flyers last weekend.
The teams met for a pre-season friendly in June which ended 5-4 to Winchester, who are currently sitting in third position - a point above the Blues.
Wycombe kicked off and began to move the ball around the pitch, using the space well and ensuring everybody got a touch. The Blues' form during the early stages of games has been outstanding and this continued as they took the lead five minutes in through in-form striker Hayley Giles. Despite carrying a slight groin strain, Giles managed to latch onto the end of midfielder Christina O’Connor’s cross and slot the ball past a helpless Winchester keeper.
The Blues hoped this would spark a flurry of goals, and it did, but not all Wycombe’s way. Just four minutes later, Winchester’s pacey striker beat the offside trap and levelled the score up. As the game progressed both teams were creating decent chances, and shortly before the 20-minute mark the Blues' leading goalscorer Ellie Searle made it onto the score sheet. Searle had her back to goal, but her quick feet fooled the defender allowing her to turn and lob the keeper with a stunning shot.
A mere four minutes later, Searle again fired from distance and saw her shot squeeze in at near post making it 3-1 to the Blues with 22 minutes played. But Winchester refused to be defeated and their determination paid off as they earned a penalty kick after centre-back Steph McDaid was adjudged to have used too much force against the striker in the box.
The penalty was converted, narrowing the Blues' lead to one goal. Both teams were happy to try and keep possession until half-time after an exhausting first half, although fortunately, two minutes before the break Wycombe won themselves a penalty of their own which was converted by none other than Ellie Searle, who completed a first-half hat-trick.
Manager Andrew Morten seemed pleased with his team’s performance so far, but made it clear that the game wasn’t won yet and more goals would follow. He was forced into making some changes as both striker Hayley Giles and right-back Kim Bignall were suffering with groin strains. They made way for Leah Flisik and Molly Courtenay who were only just back from their own injuries.
Morten was proven correct about his goal predictions when two minutes into the second half, Winchester found a way through to goal and netted their third of the game. Unfortunately soon after this, left-back Helen Taylor had to leave the field with a dislocated thumb, meaning another re-shuffle was needed which, again, upset the dynamics of the team and allowed Winchester to score an equaliser.
With the score at 4-4, up popped Ellie Searle yet again to score her fourth and Wycombe’s fifth of the game with another audacious lob. Searle’s incredible performance has inspired the rest of the team from the outset and throughout and if it weren’t for a heroic goal-line clearance by stand-in right-back Rebecca Gooch, the score would be even once again.
Dramatically in what was the most fortunate goal of the game, Blues captain Charlotte Bagshaw and midfielder Nicola Kirk tried to clear the ball with a joint effort, only for it to rebound off of one Winchester player and fall at the feet of another who was unmarked and scored the final goal of the game.
Despite being under pressure in the second half, Morten reminded the team of their first-half efforts and concluded that the result was a fair reflection of the game. Next week Wycombe travel to Ascot and will be hoping to continue their goal-scoring form