Disappointment for the Doncaster Rovers Belles on Saturday, as two great strikes from visitors Liverpool proved the difference between the two FAWSL sides. The 2-0 defeat drops the Belles back to the foot of the table as the League pauses for a mid-season break for international and Olympic fixtures
In front of a crowd of 600 at the Keepmoat both sides forced chances from corners in the opening five minutes. Liverpool were first to threaten as Michelle Evans’ dead ball delivery was only half-cleared, but Cheryl Foster’s driven shot flew just beyond the angle of the bar and post. At the other end a good ball into the far post found Leandra Little in space, but unfortunately the defender could only pull her shot wide of the goal.
The Belles were left to rue that chance just a few minutes later as Lynda Shepherd fired in a spectacular goal to open the scoring; the ball dropping for Shepherd almost thirty yards out and she struck an unstoppable first time half-volley right into the top corner of Mary Earps’ net.
Midway through the half came the Belles’ best chance to level the scores; Alyssa Lagonia, who looked most composed on the ball throughout, hitting an incredible 40 yard through ball to split the defence and release Aine O’Gorman in the left channel, but O’Gorman, cutting inside could only drive her shot against the under side of the bar and the visitors managed to clear.
Though the Belles seemed to be faring better in terms of possession and territory Liverpool remained a constant threat on the break and almost found a second goal as Foster’s cross from the right was prodded just the right side of her own goal-post by Lucy Sowerby. At the other end the Belles were starting to create opportunities as half-time approached, firstly as Millie Bright fired over, and then on the stroke of half-time as an attempted clearance cannoned back towards goal off O’Gorman, but Nicola Davies was able to make the save.
The second-half began in the midst of a heavy downpour which sent the crowd scurrying back up the seats for shelter, and those who turned their back on the game to escape the rain missed another fantastic strike from the visitors. Chloe Jones twenty-five yard strike flying into the roof of the net, but fortunately for the Belles the referee’s whistle had already sounded for a foul. The Belles almost took advantage of the let-off as O’Gorman looked to get onto a ball over the top of the Liverpool defence, however under pressure from the defence the Belles winger could only fire wide.
On the hour mark though Liverpool struck again, a decisive goal which seemed to take the wind from the Belles sails and effectively wrap up the win for the visitors. Katie Brussell cutting in from the right flank before curling an unstoppable strike beyond Earps to make it 2-0. Though there was little the Belles ‘keeper could do about the two goals she did manage to keep her side in the game in the closing half hour with a couple of key saves from Foster, Kelly Jones and Emily Gielnik.
The Belles struggled to find any momentum on which to launch an attack of their own; substitute Beth England yelling “Oh f**k off!” at an over-hit through-ball as it sailed past her head proving something of an effective summary of the Belles final half hour. Their only telling chance came in injury time as England found space to get in an effort on goal, but Davies was equal to it and managed to preserve the 2-0 win for her side.
Belles line-up (4-4-2); Mary Earps; Lucy Sowerby, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Naomi Chadwick; Alyssa Lagonia (Beth England), Katie Holtham, Kasia Lipka, Aine O’Gorman (Julie-Ann Russell); Jess Sigsworth (Tanya Oxtoby), Millie Bright