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Sweet day for Courtney as Belles close gap
 Women's Football News 25 Aug 2014
 
Sweet day for Courtney as Belles close gap - 25 Aug 2014 - Women's Football NewsOxford Utd 1 (Simmonds 39)
Doncaster Rovers Belles 5 (Sweetman-Kirk 14,24,50, Williams 32,71)

Courtney Sweetman-Kirk hit a hat-trick as Doncaster Rovers Belles narrowed the gap on WSL 2 leaders Sunderland to two points with a powerful and commanding display at Abingdon. 
 
The Belles were quickly into their stride with Sweetman-Kirk having a shot saved in the opening minute by Demi Lambourne who also needed to keep out an angled effort by Sue Smith moments later.
 
Jess Sigsworth shot wide after cutting in from the right but the Belles' enterprising start finally brought reward on 14 minutes. Kasia Lipka supplied the through ball to release Sweetman-Kirk who planted a left foot shot past the oncoming Lambourne for the opening goal.
 
Sweetman-Kirk again had the ball in the net three minutes later as she headed a Sigsworth shot on into the net but an offside flag cut short any celebrations. Victoria Williams fired a shot past the post from Sweetman-Kirk's lay off as the Belles continued to dominate proceedings.
 
The second goal came just after the halfway point with Smith the creator, the former England star breaking down the right and jinking past Megan Alexander before her pinpoint cross picked out an unmarked Sweetman-Kirk who headed in from close range.
 
Oxford rallied and created their best chance so far, Gemma Simmonds' pass playing in Helen King who took the ball into the area but couldn't get enough power into her shot and the ball went narrowly past the far post.
 
Back came Doncaster with Lauren Cresswell floating a corner into the area and Williams rose highest to power a header past Lambourne for the third goal.
 
Lambourne needed to be swift when making a smothering save from Sweetman-Kirk following a powerful run by Sigsworth but Oxford were to hit back with a strike of their own just a minute later.
 
Katie Stanley did well to hold off a challenge from Cresswell on the right and found King, whose pass set up Simmonds to sweep the ball in from fifteen yards.
 
A good passing move from the Belles just before half time ended with Sigsworth's crossfield pass picking out Smith, whose low shot brought out a good save from Lambourne.
 
Oxford had kept themselves in the game with Simmonds' strike but five minutes into the second half, they shot themselves in the foot by giving away a sloppy goal. Lambourne played a short goal kick to Katherine Nutman but this was seized on and she was dispossessed by Smith who unselfishly passed up a chance to shoot and instead squared the ball for Sweetman-Kirk to complete a perfect hat-trick - left foot, right foot and header.
 
The same thing nearly happened again three minutes later as Smith again won the ball from an Oxford defender and set up a chance for Beth England who drove her shot over the bar.
 
Smith had been at her impish best on the ball and was inches away from a goal her display deserved when, after receiving a pass from Sigsworth, she curled a shot past Lambourne but against the bar and Sweetman-Kirk was unable to turn home the rebound.
 
Lipka and Williams had dominated matters in midfield with impressive displays and Williams was to crown her performance with a spectacular second goal as she shrugged off a challenge from Kayleigh Hines before finding the top corner with a 25-yard lob which dipped under the bar.
 
To their credit, Oxford did not give up and tried to reduce the deficit with Lauren Allison bringing out a save from Nicola Hobbs and Katie Stanley sending an angled shot wide following a good pass from Louise Fellows.
 
However the Belles had proved to be too strong on the day and had a great chance to extend their lead in the dying minutes when Lipka intercepted a throw in and found Sweetman-Kirk in front of goal but this time the striker skied her shot over the bar. 
 
Oxford Utd: Demi Lambourne, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Megan Alexander, Kayleigh Hines, Katherine Nutman, Amy Chivers, Katie Stanley, Lauren Allison (sub Laura Low 75mins), Gemma Simmonds (sub Holly Pickett 75mins), Helen King, Ella Franklin-Fraiture (sub Louise Fellows 61mins). Subs not used: Laura Nichol, Jody Marshall.

Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Lauren Cresswell, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Kasia Lipka, Jess Sigsworth (sub Molly Johnson 63mins), Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Victoria Williams, Beth England (sub Reanne Thomas 73mins). Subs not used: Megan Gover, Ashleigh Mills, Emma Johnson, Hope Knight.

Photos:

(top) Courtney Sweetman-Kirk breaks through to score the opening goal
(middle) Helen King steers a shot just wide, under pressure from Rhiannon Roberts
(bottom) Molly Johnson closes down Megan Alexander


 
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