Doncaster Rovers Belles warm up for cup final with big win in final home game

Mollie Barlow was on the scoresheet in Belles' big win at the Eco-Power Stadium.Mollie Barlow was on the scoresheet in Belles' big win at the Eco-Power Stadium.
Mollie Barlow was on the scoresheet in Belles' big win at the Eco-Power Stadium.
Doncaster Rovers Belles concluded their home fixtures for the season with a second successive 3-0 win.

They followed the impressive victory over current leaders Hull City by completing the double over bottom team FC United of Manchester for whom defeat officially condemned them to relegation.

Ahead through Hannah McWilliams at the interval, Belles added further goals by Megumi Shenton and Mollie Barlow in the second half before a crowd of 1,124 at the Eco-Power Stadium - a season’s best attendance for Belles.

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While it might not be possible to play every home game at the Eco-Power next season, it does provide a solid argument for playing there more often than has been the case since Belles lost WSL status.

Just as Rovers' men's side have surged up the table to turn a position of relegation-threatened into one of strong play-off candidates, so too have Belles enjoyed much improved fortunes since Ciaran Toner took over the managerial reins, not least at home.

Belles had lost all three FAWNL home games before Toner arrived, but they have reeled off six wins and two draws on home turf since, recording five clean sheets and conceding just four goals. Belles’ away form this season has been fairly average and if they are to mount a serious title challenge next season, it is the obvious area where there is much room for improvement.

Belles have moved level with Stockport County on 31 points, but will need to better County’s points haul in the remaining fixtures if they are to claim a top half finish. Belles have just one more game to play, away to Barnsley. Stockport have two games left and they also enjoy a goal difference superiority of seven over Belles.

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Belles meet Huddersfield Town in the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA Women’s Senior Cup Final at Hillsborough this Sunday (3pm) in a repeat of last season’s final when Town completed a hat-trick of wins.

Belles will be hoping to avenge the outcome in last season’s final between the pair when Town won 1-0 at the Eco-Power Stadium.

Meanwhile, there were mixed fortunes for the city’s teams in their own Sheffield and Hallam Women’s County League finals on Sunday.

Rossington Main were 3-0 winners over Chesterfield Development in the Shield against Chesterfield. Kat Cunliffe put Rossington ahead with Chloe Dean making it 2-0 at the break and Sarah Black completing the scoring in the second half.

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AFC Bentley ended up very valiant losers in the League Cup final against champions elect Brunsmeer Athletic who are set to take that crown from Bentley.

The pair met in last season’s final, Brunsmeer winning 3-1, but in an enthralling game, Gemma Harte gave Bentley the lead. Brunsmeer hit back to lead 2-1 at the interval. Bentley keeper Jade Smith made a fine penalty save with score at 1-1. Jenna McGee levelled early in the second half and neither side was able to find a further goal before the need for extra time. The final was settled in Brunsmeer’s favour when Lisa Giampalma scored.

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