Doncaster Rovers Belles facing relegation to fourth tier of women’s game

Action from Belles v Fylde. Photo: Julian BarkerAction from Belles v Fylde. Photo: Julian Barker
Action from Belles v Fylde. Photo: Julian Barker
Doncaster Rovers Belles have been all but relegated to the fourth tier of the women’s game after a 3-2 home defeat to Fylde Ladies.

Captain Izzy Whittle thought she had rescued a potentially precious point with an 85th minute equaliser but Fylde netted a stoppage time winner.

Sunday’s defeat leaves Zoey Shaw’s side three points adrift of safety with just one game to play – but Belles’ goal difference (-40) is considerably worse than the team immediately above them, Sheffield FC Ladies (-15).

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Belles were playing in the top flight as recently as 2016 and won the second tier title only last year but had to withdraw from the new FA Women’s Championship for financial reasons.

Manager Neil Redfearn and the entire senior squad subsequently departed – meaning the club have played a team of untested youngsters in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division.

Belles had gone seven games without losing prior to the defeat to Fylde but they have won just four league games this season.

Barring any sort of league restructuring, Belles now seem certain to start a new era in the club’s history – under the ownership of Club Doncaster – in Division One North of the FAWNL.

Leeds United, Barnsley and Newcastle United are among the teams currently competing at that level.

Club Doncaster will officially complete their takeover of the Belles next month.