Heather McDonnell scored a hat-trick to ensure that MK Dons Ladies earned an impressive 6-2 win over Norwich City Ladies on Sunday.
The Dons battled their way to an emphatic victory, which keeps them within six points of top spot in the FA Women’s Premier League South East Division One. They have three games in hand on leaders AFC Wimbledon.
James Honeyman’s side were in clinical form from the start and McDonnell put the Dons ahead within a minute, followed by Laura Mills scoring from a fabulous solo effort to see her side go into the break 2-0 up.
However it was the Canaries who started the second half quickly, as Chelsea Garrett tapped the ball home from close range to make it 2-1.
This didn’t put the Dons off though as McDonnell and Charley Clarke both converted chances created for them by Leah Cudone to see the Dons’ lead look comfortable at 4-1.
Cudone then assisted McDonnell in getting her hat-trick by playing a through ball just in front of her, which allowed McDonnell to run on and slot the ball into the bottom left corner of the net.
With the score 5-1 in the Dons’ favour, Louise Naylor chipped the ball forward to Kim Farrow, who cheekily lobbed the keeper to make the score 6-1 and end the Dons’ scoring rout for the day.
Although Norwich City grabbed another goal, this time courtesy of Natasha Snelling, the Dons saw out the final minutes of the game to secure a 6-2 victory.
With the sun beating down on both teams at Stadium MK, it was a surprise to see the game started at such a fast pace.
The Dons instantly won the ball after Norwich City took kick-off, and McDonnell found herself with a comfortable finish to make from 10-yards-out, which she did expertly to make it 1-0 to her side.
Dawn Mallet then broke out the skills as she danced her way past two Canaries defenders to have a shot from just inside the box, however the goalkeeper was able to save her effort.
Mallett continued to try and force the issue, flicking the ball over her head to play McDonnell through on goal, and when that didn’t work out, Mallett had a shot hit the roof of the net from 25-yards-out.
Moments later, Mills went on a fantastic solo run, bobbing and weaving past those in her way, before slotting the ball calmly into the bottom right corner to make it 2-0.
Mills and Wright then both forced the Norwich keeper to make saves from close-range in order to keep the score 2-0 at the break.
It was the Canaries who struck first in the second half, as they broke forward successfully to gift Garrett an opportunity from six-yards-out that she wasn’t going to miss, 2-1.
James Honeyman opted to make one change to his team after conceding, bringing on Cudone in place of Mollie Burgess, and his decision had an instant impact.
Cudone burst down the right-wing before playing a low cross across the face of the goal for McDonnell to tap home to make it 3-1.
A mere 13 minutes later Cudone was the architect again as she crossed the ball dangerously in front of Norwich’s goal, which led to Clarke getting on the scoresheet to make it 4-1.
Cudone didn’t have to wait much longer to register a hat-trick of assists as she knocked the ball just in front of McDonnell, who ran onto the pass and guided the ball past the keeper to see the score be 5-1 in the Dons’ favour.
While Anna Loftus and Mallett went close to making it 6-1, it was Kim Farrow who ended up grabbing the Dons’ final goal of the game.
Naylor beautifully lobbed the ball towards Farrow, who was perched at the edge of box, and she skillfully turned with the ball so she could chip over the Norwich goalkeeper to all but confirm her side’s victory.
With only a minute left on the clock the Canaries, who never gave up, got rewarded with a second goal as Snelling struck from close-range to make it 6-2.
Speaking after the game Honeyman beamed with pride over his side’s clinical performance.
“I’m ridiculously proud of us to be able to play at that tempo for 90 minutes at that level on a day as hot as this,” Honeyman said.
“To win seven league games in a row is a great achievement especially in the run-in at the end of the season.”
Next up for the Dons is a trip to fifth-placed Actinians on Tuesday evening.
Starting XI: Kirby, Naylor (c), Newsome, Holland, Burgess (Cudone,51), Wright, Hughes, Clarke, Mallett, Mills (Loftus 71), McDonnell (Farrow 71).
Unused subs: Shults, Doyle.
Goals: McDonnell (1,52 ,70), Mills (34) Clarke (65), Farrow (87)