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Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 (Smith 15) Sunderland 1 (Furness 32)
The top of the table clash in WSL 2 ended with honours even at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Sue Smith's superb opener was cancelled out by a cracking Rachel Furness strike as second half chances went astray. Rachael Laws in the Sunderland goal had to be aware on a number of occasions to keep the Black Cats in it and earn a point. However, she wasn't to be beaten and the Belles had to make do with a draw.
There was a chance from the off as a poor back pass from Vicki Greenwell allowed Courtney Sweetman-Kirk to get a shot away before the striker tested Laws from distance seconds later.
The away side enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with Furness controlling the midfield but they couldn't find a way through a solid Belles defence.
A scramble in the area almost led to the opener for Sunderland as Emma Kelly saw her header cannon back off the post. From the resulting counter, Hobbs' kick found Beth England who found Smith with a delightful through ball down the left. Smith broke into the box and smashed the ball past Laws at her near post to give Gordon Staniforth's side the lead.
The goal seemed to lift the home team as Sweetman-Kirk and Reanne Thomas caused the Sunderland defence into some last ditch defending. A glorious chance fell to Thomas on 28 minutes to make it two but after being sent clear by Sweetman-Kirk, Laws was out to deny the winger with a great stop.
It was going to take something special to break down the Belles defence and that's exactly what Furness produced on 33 minutes. A break down the left allowed her to cut inside and fire the ball home from 30 yards to level it.
England had the chance to put the Belles back in front with a low drive but it sailed wide of the post as we approached half time.
It could have been 2-1 to the visitors at the break but for a wonderful stop from Hobbs. The Belles stopper got down low to prevent Rebekah Bass from scoring on the stroke of half time.
The second half began with both sides wary of making the first move to try and grab the lead. England went close before setting up Sweetman-Kirk who headed just wide of Laws' goal.
Millie Bright came off the bench and fired a shot just over on 67 minutes as the Belles looked to push on to grab a winner. The Belles continued to press with Sweetman-Kirk causing problems for the Sunderland defence in every attack.
Substitute Ashleigh Mills threatened with an attempt from the right but it was well blocked as wave after wave of Belles attacks went by without a goal.
But that elusive winner couldn't be found and the points were shared, ensuring that Sunderland preserve their lead of two points over the Belles at the top of the table.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Lauren Cresswell (sub Millie Bright 53mins), Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Victoria Williams, Reanne Thomas (sub Ashleigh Mills 68mins), Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Kasia Lipka, Beth England (sub Hope Knight 87mins).
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Megan Beer, Vicki Greenwell, Rachel Furness, Steph Bannon, Gemma Wilson, Keira Ramshaw, Kelly McDougall, Rebekah Bass (sub Brogan McHugh 88mins), Emma Kelly (sub Lauren Briggs 54mins), Sophie Williams.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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