Belles stay on top after a narrow 2-1 win over the GloversDoncaster Rovers Belles are arguably Yeovil Town Ladies’ toughest opponents of the season, with the visitors sitting top of the league table going into the match.
However, the play was scrappy in the opening stages of the game, and it took ten minutes before Rovers striker Sue Smith registered the first shot, which was pushed away by Yeovil ‘keeper Rachel Simkin.
The Belles started applying some pressure and striker Jess Sigsworth tried to open the scoring when she found herself in a lot of space at the far post from a free kick, but her volley looped well over the bar. Five minutes later she picked up the ball on the edge of the area and created space for herself, before shooting just wide.
Yeovil were struggling to get out of their own half, and Doncaster kept threatening. Left back Lauren Cresswell’s free kick from 30 yards out had to be pushed away by Rachel Simkin. Then, a Smith corner was missed by Simkin, and centre back Rhiannon Roberts headed just over the bar.
The onslaught continued, and Kaisa Lipka had a half volley blocked by a Yeovil body, before the ball broke back to her and she shot violently wide. Reanne Thomas also tried her luck, but her shot was again blocked by the Yeovil defence.
The visitors finally made the breakthrough on 40 minutes from a corner. Smith whipped the ball in, and a diving header from the Belles captain Leandra Little diverted the ball into the net to put Rovers 1 – 0 up.
Doncaster were extremely close to extending their lead before the break, when a powerful long-range effort from Cresswell was superbly tipped onto the crossbar by Simkin.
The game evened out after the break, with Yeovil having much more possession than they had in the first half. Despite the improvement, it was Rovers who had the first chance of the half when Thomas was given the ball in the penalty box, but her shot was weak and straight at Simkin.
Yeovil started creating chances, and forced an equaliser when Jade Kirby’s cross was chested down by Laura Bray, who set up Kirsty Whitton to smash the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the area.
However, they were on level terms for just five minutes before Rovers restored their lead in a goal that was very similar to their first. Another Smith corner was met by Little, who again headed home to put the visitors 2 – 1 up.
Yeovil pushed forward at every opportunity to try and get another equaliser, but they couldn’t create any clear cut chances. In fact, it was the Belles that had the ball in the back of the net again in injury time. Simkin couldn’t hold onto Smith’s shot and Bethany England got to the rebound. However, the goal was chalked off for offside, and the game ended 2 – 1 to Doncaster Rovers Belles.
As the FA WSL now heads into a one-month break – with the Glovers perched in fifth – Lawler insists her team will emerge all the stronger for it.
“We’ve had a tight game against one of the contenders for the league – with Donny and Sunderland doing so well in the first part of the season we might very well be taking a 2-1 defeat against a team that might win the league,” said Lawler.
“I’m not too dissatisfied with today and we showed a bit of character to come back into the game.
“I’m delighted for Kirsty because she has worked so hard and that paid off for her today.
“I think there is still plenty to do and to work on, but we’ve had 40 days of game time and within that 40 days I think we’ve come an awful long way.”
Photos courtesy of www.terryfisherphotography.com.
Yeovil (4-4-2): Simkin; Bleazard, Brazell, Edwards, Kirby; Bray, Sherwood (Whitton 16), Stewart, Radburn-Lorton; Pearson (Wardle 74), Cook
Subs not used: Tewkesbury, Cossens
Doncaster (4-3-3): Hobbs; Cunningham, Little, Roberts, Cresswell; Williams, Lipka, Bright (England 67); Thomas, Sigsworth (Mills 72), Smith
Subs not used: Johnson, Knight