Neil Redfearn admitted instructing his Belles side to focus on the ‘ugly’ side of the game in their win over Brighton and Hove Albion.
Doncaster Rovers Belles earned a 4-1 win over Brighton, managed by former England boss Hope Powell, to maintain their place at the top of FAWSL2.
Kirsty Hanson bagged a brace for the Belles with Jess Sigsworth and Rebecca Rayner also on target.
Boss Redfearn said he was surprised by the margin of victory and suggested the scoreline flattered his side.
And he also revealed his pre-match instructions focused on taking care of defensive duties primarily against a Brighton side tipped to challenge for promotion.
“We know how talented and gifted we are at playing and passing and in possession, but we concentrated on the ugly stuff because we know Brighton are one of the fancied sides, and rightly so,” Redfearn said.
“In the end we deserved to win but maybe four flattered us because they did okay for an hour.
“I thought as it was going on we were always going to beat them though.
“But when you’re top of the league, you’re there to be shot at, and people are there to try and come and beat you.
“I’m pleased but I thought in the first half that Brighton were probably the better footballing side, if I’m honest.
“I thought they played some good stuff and looked a little bit more composed.
“I thought we pressed well and defended quite solidly, but I wanted us to play a little bit better than that going forward.
“But I thought we totally dominated it in the second half.
“We created chance after chance, and I was just a little bit worried at 2-1 that we weren’t going to put them away but obviously the two finishes to make it four were top drawer.”
Sigsworth fired the Belles ahead from the spot on 33 minutes after Rayner was felled by Beth Roe.
Fern Whelan equalised for Brighton just before half time with a header from a Sophie Perry free kick.
After two injury-related delays in the first half, there was still time for the Belles to hit back and Hanson did just that as she finished from an Emily Simpkins cross.
Sigsworth was denied her second of the game when Perry made a well-timed challenge to block her shot off a beautiful lofted pass from Rayner.
And Sigsworth rattled the post with a powerful drive after Brighton failed to clear a Hanson cross.
The Belles twice struck the woodwork in the 78th minute before Hanson finally added their third with Hanson drilling in off the underside of the crossbar from 20 yards.
Rayner rounded things off by replicating Hanson’s effort in the final minute of the game.
The Belles travel to Tottenham Hotspur Ladies on Sunday in the fourth round of the FA Women’s Cup.