Doncaster Belles: We’ll come back stronger, insists Staniforth

Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle
Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle

Gordon Staniforth says Doncaster Rovers Belles will redouble their efforts next season to get back where they belong.

However, Belles could now face a major battle to hold onto their star players after failing to win promotion back to FAWSL1 at the first attempt.

Doncaster ended their season in style on Sunday by winning 9-0 at bottom club London Bees.

But the club’s biggest win of the year proved to be in vain as leaders Sunderland held their nerve to beat Millwall Lionesses 4-0 and claim the FAWSL2 title.

England Under 19 striker Jess Sigsworth, young midfielder Millie Bright and experienced duo Sue Smith and Leandra Little are all likely to come under the radar of top flight clubs this season.

However, Staniforth insists Doncaster will once again be targeting promotion in 2015.

“I said when I came into the job that I would try my best to lead the club to promotion in two years,” said Staniforth.

“The players have given their all and we’ve gone close to achieving the aim in this first season.

“But we’ll redouble our efforts next year to make sure we get back to where I believe this club should be.”

Sunday’s title D-day started in incredible fashion as Doncaster raced into a 4-0 lead at The Hive inside 20 minutes courtesy of goals from Beth England, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Sigsworth and Bright.

However, Sunderland went ahead at Millwall mid-way through the first half and three second half goals wrapped up promotion for the Lady Black Cats.

An own goal, a longe range effort from Smith and further goals from Bright, Rhiannon Roberts and Sweetman-Kirk saw the Belles sign off with a 9-0 win - which left Staniforth full of praise for his side.

“I’m delighted with the season as a whole,” said Belles’ boss.

“I think we’ve grown as a team, played really well and scored lots of goals.

“We’ve entertained and there’s a real togetherness this season and it showed because we were magnificent on Sunday.

“We really shown a correlation of great goals and fantastic pattern play. We’ve really come on leaps and bounds through every game this season.

“We’ve done brilliant and had a fantastic season.

“If we’d said at the beginning of the season that we’d be in the top two, with a chance of winning the championship on the last day, we’d have been thrilled to bits.

“It’s very unusual winning 9-0 and everybody being so downbeat, normally you’re patting each other on the back.

“There were a few tears in the girls’ eyes in the dressing room.

“I must admit, I didn’t think it would get to me but it has been emotional.

“We’ve done fantastic all season. It was a brilliant performance at the weekend but congratulations to Sunderland.”

Staniforth told the Free Press last week he was yet to decide whether he would stay on as Belles boss.