Sheffield & Hallamshire FA County Cup final: Doncaster Rovers Belles suffer heartbreak against Huddersfield Town

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Doncaster Rovers Belles were made to rue missed chances as they lost 1-0 to holders Hudderfield Town in the Sheffield & Hallamshire FA County Cup final.

Fourth-tier Belles more than held their own against a team from the division above and hit the crossbar through Lindsey Tugby in the first half.

But a second-half header from Brittany Sanderson broke their hearts in front of 554 fans at the Eco-Power Stadium.

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With the vast majority of the crowd supporting Nick Buxton's side Belles started brightly and almost took the lead with eight minutes on the clock.

Action from Belles' County Cup final defeat to Huddersfield Town. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTDAction from Belles' County Cup final defeat to Huddersfield Town. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD
Action from Belles' County Cup final defeat to Huddersfield Town. Picture: Howard Roe/AHPIX LTD

Sophie Scargill beat her marker on the edge of the box and sent a dangerous delivery into the six-yard area with Abi Coley there to connect.

Her effort looked to be heading over the line but a desperate piece of defending from sliding Huddersfield defender Autumn Housley kept the ball out.

Moments later, at the other end, Izzy Trevillion was on hand to make a goal-saving block to prevent the visitors from opening the scoring following a counter attack.

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Despite Huddersfield’s higher division status there was little between the teams and Belles saw another effort on goal saved when striker Sophie Bown met Scargill's cross just outside the box.

Brown was almost in again when she charged down Terriers keeper Abi Megeary as the favourites and holders continued their shaky start.

But they began to settle and Emily Cahill blocked a goalbound effort inside the area before Belles stopper Ellie Sharpe showed good reactions to keep out Yas Mason's header from a corner in the 24th minute.

Sharpe pulled off a fine save eight minutes later when she was at full stretch to stop Sanderson's close-range effort.

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As the pendulum swung once more Belles almost made a breakthrough when Liv Harness connected with Holly Housley's deep cross into the box but her ball into Abi Coley's path was caught by Megeary.

With the first half drawing to a close Tugby smacked the crossbar with a strike from 25 yards that had Megeary beaten.

Huddersfield came out much improved after the interval and some last-ditch defending from Trevillion in the 52nd minute prevented Mason from having a clear shot at goal.

Sanderson hit the side netting shortly after and Belles skipper Jess Andrew was at full stretch to block a shot at goal as the visitors continued to turn the screw.

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Their pressure eventually told and with 67 minutes gone they took the lead when Sanderson headed home from a corner.

Sanderson almost doubled her side's advantage two minutes later when her header was dropped by Sharpe, who quickly recovered to save her blushes.

Belles looked to respond but Coley could only fire wide from inside the area when the ball fell to her fortuitously after Huddersfield failed to clear a free-kick.

Another chance fell the hosts' way on 80 minutes when Coley took the ball to the byline and cut it back for Tugby, who couldn't keep her shot on target.

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Belles continued to pressure their opponents' goal and a superb solo run from Izzy Gigg in the dying minutes was just missing a teammate's finishing touch.

Trevillion flashed an effort wide from distance in the final minute of normal time as Belles' first cup final in 13 years ended in heartbreak.

Belles: Ellie Sharpe, Izzy Trevillion, Jess Andrew (captain), Olivia Harness, Holly Housley, Emily Cahill (Mollie Barlow, 83), Izzy Gigg, Lindsey Tugby (Ryley Johnson, 89), Sophie Scargill, Abi Coley, Sophie Brown

Sub(s) not used: Freya Rattenbury, Eliza Bedford, Shelbey Morris

Huddersfield: Abi Megeary, Beth Stanfield, Kate Mallin (Charlotte Gill, 90), Cara Field, Ria Montgomery (Falone Sumaili, 89), Brittany Sanderson, Autumn Housley, Yasmin Mason (Laura Hulme, 87), Kiera Heslam, Serena Fletcher, Hannah Langford

Sub(s) not used: Keunna Dill