Q Radio Sport
Cliftonville Ladies and Glentoran Women both recorded statement victories on Wednesday evening as they underlined their title ambitions this season.
The Reds won 4-1 at Linfield Ladies to make it six wins from their opening six rounds of matches to highlight the shift in the balance of power between the two sides this season.
Former Blues stars Caitlin McGuinness, Kirsty McGuinness and Louise McDaniel were all on target for the North Belfast side in the rout, while Yasmin White added a fourth late on as striker Ali Smyth’s penalty on the hour mark was not enough for the hosts.
The result leaves Linfield - who won four titles in a row between 2016 and 2019 - a whopping 11 points off the pace after just six rounds of matches.
Cliftonville’s closest challengers are defending champions Glentoran Women, who moved up to 13 points from their opening six games thanks to a 4-1 triumph over Sion Swifts Ladies.
The Glens in-form striker Kerry Beattie netted a remarkable four goals for the hosts - including two from the penalty spot - as they recorded their second successive victory.
Beattie had struck twice in the first half to put the hosts in control and despite Leontia McVarnock pulling one back for Sion on the stroke of half-time, two second half penalties sealed the points for the hosts.
Kerry Beattie - all four goals for Glentoran against Sion Swifts. CSXSports/Chris Scott
Elsewhere, there was late heartache for Derry City Women who conceded in the fifth minute of stoppage time against Crusaders Strikers - who came away from the Brandywell with a one-goal victory.
Striker Emily Wilson scored the game’s only goal deep into stoppage time to secure a vital three points for the Crues - although it was a performance and result that once again demonstrated the huge improvement in Derry this campaign.
Derry City Women 0-1 Crusaders Strikers (Wilson 90+5)
Glentoran Women 4-1 Sion Swifts Ladies (Beattie ’35, ’41, pen ’60, pen ‘72; McVarnock ’45)
Linfield Ladies 1-4 Cliftonville Ladies (Smyth pen’ 60; C McGuinness ‘9, K McGuinness ’20, McDaniel ’60, White ’82)