Doncaster Rovers Belles 3 Durham Women 0: Belles make winning start to FAWSL2 campaign

Doncaster Belles manager Glen Harris
Doncaster Belles manager Glen Harris

Doncaster Rovers Belles head coach Glen Harris admitted patience was key as his side blew away any pre-season nerves with victory over Durham Women.

The Belles have been hotly tipped as one of the favourites in this year’s FA Women’s Super League 2 season although they had to wait until the 53rd minute to open the scoring, via Courtney Sweetman-Kirk.

Further goals from Bethany England and Sue Smith would then follow, leaving Harris delighted with his side’s application.

“You’re going to be a little bit nervous on your first game, but I had faith in the girls, I trust the girls, and they showed great patience and great quality,” he said.

“We told the players at the beginning that they need to be patient and they did that, so I’m happy with that.

“Us, Everton and probably Reading have been tagged as favourites, we can’t hide from that, but we’ve got to take that on the chin and actually make sure we’re prepared properly for each game.

“I think the girls have shown that they’re fit, shown their skill, and they’re raring to go for the season, so hopefully now we can relax and push on.”

It was actually the visitors who came closest to getting the opening goal with Rachel Lee curling wide on 20 minutes.

But Sweetman-Kirk eventually found the net after the break from close range after stealing past Emily Scott.

England doubled the lead seven minutes later when she ran onto Sophie Barker’s lofted ball to lob keeper Helen Alderson before Sue Smith added a third 13 minutes from time.

Durham general manager Lee Sanders meanwhile was left to rue his side’s second half dip.

“We’ve had arguably the hardest start that we could have had. Everyone’s touting Doncaster as possibly one of the two that will go up, and probably rightly so,” he said.

“We went in at half time and obviously Doncaster are a great side – one of the favourites to win the league – but one half isn’t good enough.

“Over the 90 minutes they were the better side. They came out second half and got three goals against us. We didn’t compete as well as we did in the first half. It’s not good enough.

“For the first goal we just wanted it in row Z but we’ve messed about with it in the box and we’ve been punished, and it’s an uphill struggle from there.”

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