Doncaster Rovers Belles bid to break their duck

Izzy Whittle
Izzy Whittle

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ difficult start to life in the FA Women’s National League is not about to get any easier.

Zoey Shaw’s young side have lost their opening five league games – against the teams currently occupying the top five slots in the Northern Premier Division.

They travel to unbeaten Derby County, who sit in sixth place, on Sunday.

Belles’ 5-0 defeat at Sunderland last weekend followed a 6-1 loss at Huddersfield, 2-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough, 5-0 reverse at Stoke City and a 9-0 hammering at home to reigning champions Blackburn Rovers on the opening weekend of the season.

Following a 2-2 draw, Belles also lost on penalties to Chorley – who play in the division below – in the FAWNL Cup.

The club has had no alternative but to field a team of inexperienced youngsters after every senior member of last season’s FAWSL2 title-winning squad departed following the decision to withdraw from the FA Women’s Championship for financial reasons.

Captain Izzy Whittle, however, is reluctant to use the average age of the squad as an excuse.

“We were talking about it the other day in the changing room and we’re not inexperienced as a unit”, she said.

“We may be young but lots of us have played for years and years.

“There’s other teams in the league that are sort of the same age, so it’s not really an excuse to say ‘we’re inexperienced, we’re young’.

“We know what we should be doing, we just need to start doing it.”

Further talks about the prospect of Belles joining Club Doncaster are understood to have taken place recently.

Neither party has commented publicly since last month when the Belles announced their relocation from the Keepmoat Stadium to Rossington Main but insisted they would ‘continue to work in close partnership with Doncaster Rovers and Club Doncaster’.