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Everton 2 (Parris 48, Boye-Hlorkah 68) Doncaster Rovers Belles 2 (Williams 65, Foster pen 75)
Doncaster Rovers Belles picked up their first points of this FAWSL season following an entertaining encounter at the Arriva Stadium.
The Belles met Everton in their last outing, with the points heading back to Merseyside following a 3-1 victory. The visitors were keen to ensure this was not the case again, and started the game on the front foot. A long ball was perfect for the onrushing Sue Smith, but the winger was halted by the raised linesman's flag.
Everton themselves were buoyed by their victory at the Keepmoat twelve days ago and were looking to make it two victories on the spin. Midfield lynchpin Jill Scott was at the heart of everything, and she had the first real chance of the game when an intricate passing move found her free 12 yards out. The England international arrowed her shot across goal, but the wrong side of the post.
It was the hosts who were beginning to apply most of the pressure, and the Belles defence had to remain strong to withstand the Everton attack. Captain Leandra Little brought her usual calm presence to the back line, and made a number of crucial interceptions to keep Everton at bay. The Blues had a golden chance to take the lead when a cross-field pass from Scott fell nicely for Simone Magill, however she failed to connect properly and saw her volley screw wide.
It was end-to-end stuff, with both sides eager to find the elusive goal. The visitors' defence was doing well to limit Everton to long range efforts, but Jody Handley almost took advantage when she flashed a volley wide from 25 yards. The Belles however, grew more into the game as time passed and a fantastic pass from Bethany England allowed Sue Smith to burst into the area. The winger opted to shoot from a tight angle, and Durack did well to hold the ball, and stop the lurking attackers from collecting the rebound.
Nikita Parris, who scored Everton's first in the last encounter, could have opened the scoring when she found herself with time and space 18 yards out. She couldn't apply the finish though, and Nicola Hobbs watched on as the ball drifted past the post.
The Belles almost took the lead at the end of the first half. Firstly, Millie Bright collected the ball, took a touch and then smashed the ball over from 30 yards. After persistence from Mills forced a corner, the Belles had the best chance of the first half. Leandra Little saw her header saved at point blank range, before goalmouth scramble resulted in Lyndsey Cunningham firing over from 12 yards out.
Durack followed up that save with an equally impressive one. A Sue Smith free-kick was headed on, and the ball found its way to Millie Bright at the back post. The midfielder took a touch before hammering the ball towards goal, only to see Durack's knee prevent her from snatching the opener.
At half-time the game was still goalless. The Belles had shown defensive resilience, whilst also maintaining their attacking philosophy and creating arguably the best chance of the half.
Minutes into the second half, Nikta Parris replicated the finishing she had displayed two weeks previously. The winger cut inside before curling the ball over Nicola Hobbs from 25 yards out.
The Belles were determined to get back into the game quickly, and set pieces seemed to be their most effective means of doing so. After Everton failed to clear a corner, Millie Bright teed up Leandra Little, but the defender's curling effort was comfortable for Durack to claim.
It was a corner which would bring the Belles' equaliser, via an unfamiliar source. A perfect Sue Smith corner was straight onto the head of Victoria Williams, who powered home a header that left Durack helpless.
The lead however, was short lived. Substitute Michelle Hinnigan swung in a corner, and her fellow replacement Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah jumped highest to beat Hobbs to the ball and knock the ball home.
Moments later though, the Belles had a fantastic opportunity to equalise. Substitute Cheryl Foster spun on the edge of the box before having her legs taken away by an Everton defender. The referee pointed to the spot, and Foster dusted herself off to step up and take the penalty. The striker made no mistake, and emphatically fired the ball home giving Durack no hope.
The Belles weren't finished there however, and were determined to force a winner. Leandra Little demonstrated her striking pedigree with a curling effort from 30 yards, which was well held by Durack. Then, a long pass found Naomi Chadwick in the area, but the 'keeper did well to smother the ball before the substitute could pull the trigger.
A point was what the Belles deserved, but they will be disappointed they couldn't take all three points back to South Yorkshire following a hardworking, resilient display on Merseyside.
Everton: Lizzy Durack, Vicky Jones, Alex Greenwood, Amy Kane, Lindsay Johnson, Brooke Chaplen, Jody Handley (sub Michelle Hinnigan 65mins), Jill Scott, Nikita Parris, Kelly Jones, Simone Magill (sub Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah 58mins). Subs: Julie Nelson, Paige Williams, Lucy Whipp.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Ashleigh Mills, Lyndsey Cunningham, Leandra Little, Victoria Williams, Kasia Lipka (sub Nicola Emery 70mins), Emma Thomson (sub Cheryl Foster 66mins), Sue Smith, Jess Sigsworth, Millie Bright, Beth England (sub Naomi Chadwick 89mins). Subs: Emma Higgins, Lucy Sowerby, Carla Tomkins, Jemma Purfield.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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