Brighton 1 Doncaster Rovers Belles 0
FAWSL2 leaders Doncaster Rovers Belles suffered their first defeat of the season at Brighton.
Laura Rafferty’s ninth-minute goal earned the hosts a 1-0 win over Neil Redfearn’s side.
Brighton were excellent in the first half and were rewarded with Rafferty’s early goal.
Belles couldn’t find an equaliser on a rare off day, meaning the Seagulls remain third in the division but are now just one point behind Millwall Lionesses and seven behind Doncaster.
Brighton came out of the blocks at full pelt and put the frighteners up unbeaten Doncaster.
Had Ini Umotong not slipped at the crucial moment she would have given the Seagulls the lead with less than two minutes on the clock.
Rafferty got the opener and Umotong went close again on 36 minutes, but her attempt to lob Bethan Davies skimmed the top of the net on its way over.
The Belles had Leandra Little to thank for keeping the score at 1-0 at the break after Kate Natkiel went around the goalkeeper only to find the Belles skipper blocking the line with a good headed clearance.
Umotong’s frustrating afternoon continued as she spurned the chance to double Brighton’s lead on 73 minutes, going clean through on goal after an error from Sophie Bradley-Auckland on the halfway line, only to shoot wide.
The bad luck balanced out at the other end eight minutes from time, with Rebecca Rayner’s 25-yard free kick spinning off the turf in front of Marie Hourihan, who was lucky not to direct the ball into her own goal and hand Doncaster a point.
But that was the best of Donny’s chances and Brighton hung on for the win.