Doncaster Rovers Belles 2 Aston Villa 1

Doncaster Belles manager Glen Harris
Doncaster Belles manager Glen Harris

Goals from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Bethany England got Doncaster Rovers Belles back to winning ways in a tight victory over Aston Villa at Keepmoat.

The win returns Glen Harris’ side to the top of FA WSL 2 after they dropped their first points of the season by drawing with Everton last time out.

Chances were split evenly between the sides and Nicola Hobbs showed excellent reflexes on 35 minutes to keep out Katie Wilkinson’s point-blank header.

Emily Roberts then nodded Sue Smith’s cross onto the crossbar five minutes later.

Sweetman-Kirk opened the scoring from another Smith cross a minute before the break – a bitter blow for Villa, who had been holding their own against a side that beat them 5-0 in the reverse fixture three weeks ago.

Sweetman-Kirk slipped after rounding Villa keeper Caitlin Leach on 57 minutes, but was instrumental in gaining yards again as she teed up Smith to cross for England’s header to the far post with 15 minutes to go.

Villa deservedly scored with ten minutes left, with Abi Cottam putting a fantastic half-volley past Hobbs from 20 yards.

Yet the game was marred by a late injury to Villa midfielder Kerri Welsh, who was carried off on a stretcher.

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Doncaster Rovers Belles (4-3-3): Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Rhiannon Roberts, Leandra Little, Hope Knight (Samantha Tierney 60), Sophie Barker, Kasia Lipka, Bethany England, Emily Roberts (Reanne Thomas 90+5), Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Sue Smith. Subs not used: Danielle Hill, Molly Johnson, Molly Shorey, Holly Housley, Nicole Dale.

Aston Villa Ladies (3-5-2): Caitlin Leach, Elisha N’Dow, Jade Richards, Maisie Baker, Laura Cooper (Olivia Fergusson 45), Maddy Cusack, Katy Moran, Kerri Welsh (Lauren Haynes 87), Hannah George, Abi Cottam, Katie Wilkinson.Subs not used: Hayley Crackle, Sherry McCue, Emily Owen, Beth Merrick, Jess Myers.

Attendance: 262