The FA Women’s Super League returned with a bang mid-week, with each of the league’s top three teams picking up wins with the help of a hat-trick scorer.
Victory for Arsenal moved them to within two points of current leaders Manchester City as the latter survived a late scare against Reading.
Chelsea’s win over Liverpool means their hopes of retaining the title are still alive.
Tight at the top
City kicked off the round of mid-week fixtures with a 4-3 win over Reading in a match that very nearly saw their title challenge unravelled.
Reading took an early lead but Nikita Parris’ first-half hat-trick put Nick Cushing’s side in command at the break. Demi Stokes made it 4-1 in the second half before a Fara Williams penalty and late Kirsty Pearce goal made for a nervy finish.
The Gunners had to wait until Thursday to do their bidding and matched their title-rivals’ efforts with a resounding 4-0 win over Bristol City at Meadow Park.
Vivianne Miedema knocked in three to reclaim her place as the league’s top scorer this season and bring her total for Arsenal in all competitions to 28.
The striker has remarkable statistics this season but is adamant that personal records are not on her mind.
“I came here to win the league with Arsenal and that is my main focus,” said Miedema.
“If I am the top scorer then that’s fine but it’s not my biggest aim right now.”
Victory moves Joe Montemurro’s side back to within two points of City with two games in hand. The sides meet on the final day of the season which could end up being a title decider.
Meanwhile, Chelsea made sure they were still in contention courtesy of another Lioness hat-trick scorer, Fran Kirby.
Kirby showed why she is one of the best in the world with her expertly taken three goals. Adeline Engma scored the other goal for Emma Hayes’s side.
Elsewhere, Everton recorded only their second league win of the season with a 1-0 win over West Ham United.
Hannah Cain’s late winner may prove vital come the end of the season and moved the Toffees five points clear of bottom-placed Yeovil Town who fought back to earn a 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Relegation favourites Yeovil have got a tough task on their hands to stay in the top-tier this season but a point at home may give them confidence for the run-in.
Championship perfectly poised
The Championship is proving to be a fiercely competitive league with Tottenham Hotspur sitting top, two points ahead of Manchester United who have a game in hand.
Spurs would have had the chance to extend that gap to five if they had not got stuck in traffic on the way to their game against Aston Villa on Tuesday night, forcing the game to be postponed.
As a result, only one mid-week Championship game was played, Charlton beating Millwall 3-0 win to keep them in third, seven points behind Spurs.
With no relegation from the second tier of women’s football this year, a bottom place finish is not as damaging as in other leagues.
Though Millwall are five points adrift at the foot of the table, they have three games in hand over Crystal Palace.
Follow Tom on Twitter @tombendean