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Belles go top of table
 Women's Football News 19 Jul 2015
 
Belles go top of table - 19 Jul 2015 - Women's Football NewsOxford Utd 2 (Nutman 24, Hobbs og 80)
Doncaster Rovers Belles 5 (England 9, Sweetman-Kirk 42,73,76, Stamp 85)

Courtney Sweetman-Kirk hit a hat-trick at Abingdon for the second year in a row as Doncaster Rovers Belles moved to the top of the WSL 2 table. 
 
However the scoreline does not reflect what had been a very tough match for Glen Harris' side, Oxford having had a very good spell during the first half which could have seen them take a lead into the interval.
 
The Belles started the game confidently and after they threatened early on, they took the lead with nine minutes on the clock. Jade Lorton-Radburn's pass was latched onto by Sweetman-Kirk who beat Demi Lambourne to the ball and set up the simplest of chances for Beth England to tuck home.
 
Sweetman-Kirk then got the ball in the net herself from Sue Smith's chipped pass but an offside flag ruled out any celebrations. Doncaster won a series of corners and swung in some fine crosses from either flank by Smith and Sophie Barker but Oxford rode out the storm and began to look dangerous themselves.
 
A free kick into the area was headed on by Helen King and Katie Stanley rose highest to send her header wide. A lay back from King then set up a chance for Ella Franklin-Fraiture who shot across the face of goal and Lauren Cresswell made a crucial interception to prevent Stanley at the far post.
 
The resulting corner was cleared as far as the edge of the area where Kayleigh Hines' volley was deflected goalwards and, with Doncaster appealing for offside, Katherine Nutman ran in to stab the ball past Nicola Hobbs for the equaliser.
 
The U's were unlucky not to go in front two minutes later while the Belles looked rattled at conceding the equaliser. Hines drove a free kick at goal which was parried by Hobbs, Holly Pickett latched onto the rebound but her shot struck the post.
 
Franklin-Fraiture was causing problems for the Belles defence by attacking from midfield and she created another chance when drilling a low ball across the face of goal for the oncoming Hines whose shot was deflected wide.
 
Doncaster needed to withstand the spell of pressure from the home side and then, with half time approaching, struck a blow themselves. Lyndsey Cunningham's long ball over the Oxford defence picked out Sweetman-Kirk and the prolific striker took one touch before neatly lobbing over Lambourne to restore her side's lead.
 
Sweetman-Kirk nearly turned provider at the start of the second half with a cross which just evaded Smith at the far post. The opening stages of the half were evenly contested and Oxford could have levelled matters once again when a header from Hines was cleared off the line by Cresswell.
 
The Belles had been frustrated at getting caught offside on a number of occasions but were finally rewarded in style. Smith played a neat reverse pass into the path of Sweetman-Kirk who held off the close attentions of Sahara Osborne-Ricketts before unleashing a glorious 25-yard shot which sailed into the back of the net, giving Lambourne no chance.
 
Sweetman-Kirk missed a great chance for her third a minute later when Rosie Lane's stumble left her clean through on goal but this time she lifted her shot over the bar. However she only had to wait two more minutes before racing onto Barker's pass and rounding Lambourne before calmly slotting home her hat-trick goal.
 
Oxford continued to attack and were given hope with ten minutes remaining when Stanley's corner was palmed into her own net by Hobbs.
 
However this did not deter the Belles and Smith brought out an excellent fingertip save from Lambourne with a strike from the edge of the area.
 
The game was put beyond any further doubt five minutes from time, substitute Sophie Stamp sliding a good ball to Kasia Lipka who was denied by a five save from Lambourne, but the rebound fell kindly for Stamp who produced a first class finish by chipping home from 20 yards for her first senior goal. 
 
Oxford Utd: Demi Lambourne, Chloe Bruce, Isi Meade, Kayleigh Hines (sub Georgia Timms 85mins), Sahara Osborne-Ricketts, Rosie Lane, Katie Stanley, Katherine Nutman, Helen King (sub Lauren Allison 66mins), Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Holly Pickett (sub Laura Low 66mins). Subs not used: Hannah Cox, Amy Chivers.

Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham, Lauren Cresswell, Leandra Little (sub Sam Tierney 76mins), Rhiannon Roberts, Kasia Lipka, Sophie Barker (sub Sophie Stamp 83mins), Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Jade Lorton-Radburn, Beth England (sub Emily Roberts 66mins). Subs not used: Molly Johnson, Reanne Thomas, Nicole Dale, Hope Knight.

Attendance: 407

Photos:

(top) Helen King takes on Leandra Little
(middle) Demi Lambourne punches clear under pressure
(bottom) Courtney Sweetman-Kirk on her way to scoring her hat-trick goal


 
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