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Doncaster Rovers Belles 5 (Roberts 32, Sweetman-Kirk 41, Smith 79, Simpkins 85,90)
Durham Women 0
The Belles kept alive their faint hopes of qualifying for the quarter finals of the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup with a comprehensive win over Durham Women.
A brace from Emily SImpkins and goals from Emily Roberts, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Sue Smith saw the Belles gain a vital three points in Group Two.
It had been a month since the Belles last played at The Keepmoat Stadium, and they quickly set about looking to impress the home faithful on their return. A string of early corners were dealt with well by Durham as the Belles immediately stamped their authority on the game.
Nicole Dale was handed her first start for the club after impressing off the bench at Millwall on Sunday, and she had the best chance of the opening exchanges. Her shot from the edge of the area almost caught out Anna Moorhouse, but the young goalkeeper reacted well to hold the ball.
Whilst it was the Belles applying most of the pressure, Durham looked dangerous on the counter attack. A great through ball from the back saw Jordan Atkinson free down the right. She looked to play the ball across the face of goal, and Nicola Hobbs did well to claim as the Wildcats' striker Nicki Gears looked to tap in.
Dale was looking a threat down the right hand side, and had another sight of goal just before the half hour. The winger found herself with time and space on the edge of the area, but could only drill wide of the far post.
A goal looked inevitable for the hosts, and it eventually came after 32 minutes. Courtney Sweetman-Kirk fired in a cross and Emily Roberts arrived at the back post to slot home from close range and give the Belles a deserved lead.
With just five minutes to go before the break, the Belles doubled their lead. A long ball set Sweetman-Kirk free and as she looked to round Moorhouse she was felled, with the referee deeming it to be inside the area despite vocal protests from Durham's defence. Sweetman-Kirk dusted herself off and sent Moorhouse the wrong way meaning the Belles looked comfortable at the break.
Glen Harris introduced Ashleigh Mills at the break as she returned from a long term injury, with the home crowd delighted to see a promising young player return to action. Durham began the second half with a lot more intent, and looked to pull a goal back early on. Portuguese playmaker Amelia Pereira was their main outlet, as she looked to use her pace and skill to break through the Belles backline. The centre half pairing of Rhiannon Roberts and Leandra Little were able to deal with the threat, though.
Chances were at a premium in the second half, but most were still falling to the Belles. Kasia Lipka fired over from range after being teed up by Jade Lorton-Radburn, before Durham had arguably their best chance of the game. A long ball went over Little and found Atkinson, but her first time effort was straight at Hobbs who held comfortably.
Minutes after the visitors almost pulled a goal back, the Belles seemed to kill the game off. Sue Smith was introduced as a substitute alongside Bethany England, and the latter laid the ball off to the former who fired past Moorhouse at her near post.
Glen Harris' side were hungry for more goals to close the goal difference gap between themselves and Durham. There was almost a fourth goal when an audacious England effort with the outside of her foot clipped the post before going wide.
There was indeed a fourth with five minutes to play. Smith's low corner was flicked on by England and Emily Simpkins arrived to convert and score her first goal for the club on her home debut.
Simpkins then added her second of the evening in the final minute. Some hesitant Durham defending was seized upon by England, who pulled the ball back for Simpkins to fire home.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Nicola Hobbs, Lyndsey Cunningham (sub Ashleigh Mills 45mins), Rhiannon Roberts, Leandra Little, Lauren Cresswell, Emily Simpkins, Kasia Lipka (sub Bethany England 69ins), Jade Lorton-Radburn, Nicole Dale (sub Sue Smith 62mins), Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Emily Roberts. Subs not used: Sophie Barker, Hope Knight, Jodie Langstaff.
Durham Women: Anna Moorhouse, Chloe Macek, Lauren Jordinson, Sarah Wilson, Julie Nelson, Gabrielle Banks, Jordan Atkinson (sub Erin Kelley 82mins), Beth Hepple, Natalie Gutteridge (sub Meg Lawson 82mins), Nicki Gears, Amelia Pereira (sub Jess White 82mins).
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photo - Courtney Sweetman-Kirk hurdles a challenge from Jordan Atkinson (Julian Barker).
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