Durham Women 0 Doncaster Rovers Belles 2: Belles return to FAWSL2 summit

Sue Smith
Sue Smith

Sue Smith insists Doncaster Rovers Belles proved their strength of character as they returned to the top of the FA WSL 2 table with victory at Durham.

The Belles suffered their first defeat of the season against Reading last time out which knocked them off the top but goals at New Ferens Park from Emily Roberts and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk moved them back to the summit.

The Royals play tonight so it could be a temporary stay at the top for the Belles but Smith insists she and her promotion-chasing teammates are up for the fight.

“We wanted to make amends [for Saturday against Reading],” said Smith.

“I thought we played all right against Reading but we weren’t clinical in front of goal.

“We needed to make sure we passed the ball well tonight which we did but, again, we should have been more clinical in front of goal.

“We should have scored more goals but Durham defended well, we knew they would, we struggled here last season when it was 0-0.

“It was always going to be tough but we got the three points which is the main thing.

“We are top of the league again, until tomorrow at least. We’ve got to keep battling away and we have Yeovil in our last game before the break which we know is going to be tough.

“They are a top team and we know we have to try to get a result against them.”

The promotion chasers were in front in the tenth minute when Kasia Lipka set up Roberts whose left-foot shot gave the keeper no chance.

And they sealed victory 13 minutes from time. Sub Molly Johnson put in a super cross from the right which Roberts lobbed deftly towards goal before Sweetman-Kirk forced it over the line.

Defeat for Durham was their third in a row in the league but skipper Sarah Wilson insists there are plenty of reasons for encouragement.

“It was a 100 per cent improvement on our game against Aston Villa,” she said.

“We didn’t get the result but it was brilliant tonight and it’s something we need to build on.

“We need to find some goals and push on.

“If the girls play with that passion we showed tonight I know for a fact we’ll get the results.

“We defended well, we did well to get players behind the ball, slow them down and make it difficult for them.

“Credit to Doncaster, they are a great footballing side and they are going to do very well this season.”

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Durham Women (4-1-4-1): Helen Alderson, Julie Nelson, Sarah Wilson, Jen Jennings, Lauren Jordinson, Courtney Corrie (Jess Clark 73), Ellie Christon, Beth Hepple, Jordan Atkinson (Meg Lawson 88), Jemma Purfield. Subs (not used): Sophie Stonehouse, Vic Linsley, Carrie Ann Ross, Ash Coyle, Rachel Lee.

Doncaster Rovers Belles (4-1-2-3): Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham (Molly Johnson), Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Hope Knight (Lauren Cresswell 61), Kasia Lipka, Sophie Barker, Bethany England (Sophie Stamp 61), Emily Roberts, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Sue Smith. Subs (not used): Megan Govier, Sam Tierney.

Attendance: 303