Doncaster Rovers Belles miss chance to finally kill off talk of relegation

Doncaster Rovers Belles suffered a 2-1 defeat away at Chester-Le-Street Town last Sunday.
Hayley Wood scores for AFC Bentley against Mosborough.Hayley Wood scores for AFC Bentley against Mosborough.
Hayley Wood scores for AFC Bentley against Mosborough.

The hosts were 2-0 up before Jasmine Saxton netted what proved a late consolation. The result means Belles remain seventh in the FA Women’s National League Division One North. They are nine points clear of the two relegation spots.

Had Belles won on Sunday, they would have been all but mathematically safe from relegation.

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Their next two games could not be more demanding: They host second-placed Barnsley and then travel to table-toppers Middlesbrough - a game to be played at The Riverside Stadium.

Barnsley had conceded just three goals and had six clean sheets from nine league games before the turn of the year, but have conceded in every game so far this year as their title challenge has faltered with a return of two points from a possible nine.

Middlesbrough took just one point from their first two games, but have been a juggernaut ever since with their 14-game unbeaten league run including a 4-1 win at the Eco-Power Stadium back in October.

Anything Belles get from the next two Sundays would be considered bonus points, so they will be keeping a mindful eye on results of the teams below them.

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There is at least one “six pointer” in most of the remaining rounds of fixtures. Norton have two such games, York City four, while each of the remaining quartet have three to play. The first of Belles’ trio is when they visit second-bottom York on March 13.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of drama as AFC Bentley won 4-3 away at Mosborough after trailing 2-0 and 3-1 in Sheffield and Hallam County League Division One.

Gemma Harte netted Bentley’s first goal shortly before the interval. Mosborough scored direct from a long-range free-kick early in the second half. Loren Turner quickly made it 3-2 and then Becky Kendell had a penalty well-saved before she made amends with the equaliser, while Hayley Wood struck a late winner. Rossington Main won 5-1 at Brinsworth Whitehill with goals from Millie Guest (2), Sarah Black, Eve Hotchen and an opponent.

Laura Ferguson bagged a hat-trick as Mexborough Athletic were 3-1 home winners over Barlborough in Division Three. Mexborough remain unbeaten, second behind Dronfield Town Reserves on goal difference, but have four games in hand.