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Bristol Academy 3 (Harding 20, Staniforth 37, Watts 61)
Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 (Rose og 49)
Bristol Academy joined Liverpool at the top of the FA WSL table following victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles in unhelpful conditions at Stoke Gifford.
The match started in driving rain and a strong wind and it was not easy for the two sides early on to cope with the saturated pitch.
An opportunity did come early on for Academy as Natalia broke into the area and slipped the ball to Ellie Curson whose shot brought out a one-handed save from Nicola Hobbs.
Millie Bright produced the Belles' first effort on goal with a long range strike which was just wide but the home side had the momentum and after Hobbs had blocked an angled shot from Natasha Harding, the resulting corner was not cleared by the Belles defence and Nikki Watts was left with a presentable chance but her shot was off target.
The increasing pressure told on the twenty minute mark when Alex Windell picked the ball up midway inside the Belles half and found Curson on the left. The youngster whipped in a low cross from the goal line and Harding nipped in to turn the ball past Hobbs for the opening goal.
Beth England drove a shot wide from the edge of the area at the other end but the Belles were struggling to make an impression against the home side who were largely in control of matters.
Academy tightened their grip on the game eight minutes before half time and Harding was again involved, laying the ball back to Lucy Staniforth who unleashed a shot from 25 yards which swerved more than once in the air, dipping over the head of Hobbs and into the back of the net.
Doncaster needed a way back into the game as the second half began and they were given a lifeline four minutes after the restart, almost out of nothing. Kasia Lipka slid a good pass out wide to Lyndsey Cunningham who crossed into the area and Jemma Rose attempted to clear the ball with a diving header but only succeeded in diverting the ball past Siobhan Chamberlain for an own goal.
All of a sudden the balance of the match changed completely with the Belles pressing for an equaliser and Academy looking nervous at the back. It almost came when Jess Sigsworth got on the end of a Bright cross and headed goalwards but Jaz Matthews was on hand to hook the ball clear before it could cross the line.
Bright shot just wide and Chamberlain made an excellent diving save from an England effort but just as the Belles were looking the more likely to score, a mistake at the other end left them with it all to do.
Hobbs tried to spread the ball out wide to Cunningham but Harding reacted quickly to intercept and although Hobbs managed to get back and block her shot, the rebound fell to Watts who took one touch before rifling the ball into the roof of the net for a goal her recent performances have deserved.
The goal knocked the heart out of the Belles side although Bright continued to work very hard in midfield and youngster Ashleigh Mills had an impressive game at full back.
However the momentum was with Academy once again with Harding in excellent form on the right, Curson shooting just wide from one centre and three minutes later, another cross was initially fumbled by Hobbs but she did well to recover and make a point blank save from Watts.
Academy closed the game out in the late stages to make it two wins out of two whilst the Belles are still searching for their first league points of the season.
Bristol Academy: Siobhan Chamberlain, Loren Dykes (sub Rhian Cleverly 89mins), Corinne Yorston, Jaz Matthews, Jemma Rose, Natasha Harding, Natalia Pablos Sanchon (sub Grace McCatty 68mins), Alex Windell, Nikki Watts, Lucy Staniforth, Ellie Curson (sub Lauren Haynes 84mins). Subs not used: Laura Del Rio, Ellie Leek, Rachel Hignett.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Ashleigh Mills, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Victoria Williams, Kasia Lipka, Emma Thompson, Naomi Chadwick (sub Nicky Emery 42mins), Jess Sigsworth, Millie Bright, Beth England. Subs not used: Emma Higgins, Lucy Sowerby, Carla Tomkins, Jemma Purfield.
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