Both teams had chances but, with Karen Hills’ side playing their first competitive game for over a month, it was the hosts who ran out victorious in the Women’s Super League 2.
Kirsty Hanson’s first-half strike was added to after the interval by Rebecca Rayner and Jess Sigsworth to secure the spoils for Belles, but with a home game against Millwall Lionesses coming up on Wednesday, Spurs have a chance to make a positive response quickly.
Bianca Baptiste’s trickery forced Sophie Bradley-Auckland to head inches wide of her own post inside three minutes as Spurs started brightly. Five minutes on at the other end, Sophie Walton recycled to Rayner who fired wide of the right post from 18 yards.
With 12 minutes played, Coral-Jade Haines sent Baptiste down the right, whose cross for Wendy Martin was punched clear by Bethan Davies. For Belles, Sigsworth’s inside right strike went across the face of goal, while Samantha Tierney set up Hanson for a chip, which Chloe Morgan caught on 17 minutes.
Sophie Mclean played Baptiste to the inside left, she cut inside but Rachel Newborough blocked her strike on 24 minutes. Mclean then recycled to Sarah Wiltshire who volleyed over from 20 yards while Walton’s free-kick from the right at the other end evaded a packed six-yard box and went wide on 33 minutes.
A minute later, the table-toppers took the lead. Rayner found Hanson’s run inside the box and she fired into the far corner. Walton’s carbon-copy free-kick was then met by Leandra Little, who headed over on 39 minutes.
Three minutes before the break, Jenna Schillaci’s intelligent right-sided free-kick came within inches of finding Ashleigh Neville on the stretch, but it wasn’t to be and Spurs went in trailing at the break.
Five minutes after the restart, Haines sent Baptiste away and her cross from the right for Martin was hooked clear by Little. With 53 minutes gone, Belles doubled their advantage. Walton’s low placed delivery from a corner found Rayner outside the box and she guided her shot home. Rayner then teed up Sigsworth for a one-on-one, but Renee Hector smothered with a vital touch.
Belles continued to press and Tierney found Emily Simpkins inside off the right, whose dipper evaded the far post on 72 minutes. Sigsworth then weaved her way into the box, but Hector cleared and Simpkins’ resulting corner was headed inches over by Rhiannon Roberts.
It was 3-0 with 82 minutes gone as Sigsworth let fly from 20 yards and the ball rocketed into the top left corner.
Three minutes from time, Neville’s lung-bursting run saw her find Martin, whose first-time shot was blocked by Tierney. A minute later, Baptiste’s curler from the left came within inches of dropping over Davies while, for the home side, Sigsworth played across to Mayumi Pacheco 12 yards out but her strike was blocked by the covering Hector. Deep in stoppage time, Davies kept out Josie Green’s shot.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Bethan Davies, Mayumi Pachecho, Samantha Tierney, Leandra Little, Rhiannon Roberts, Kirsty Hanson, Sophie Walton (Emily Simpkins 58), Jess Sigsworth, Rebecca Rayner, Rachel Newborough (Sophie Barker 81), Sophie Bradley-Auckland. Substitutes (not used): Monique Watson, Olivia Cook.
Spurs Ladies: Chloe Morgan, Ashleigh Neville, Renee Hector, Jenna Schillaci, Ryah Vyse, Josie Green, Coral-Jade Haines, Sophie Mclean (Rea Laudat 56), Wendy Martin, Bianca Baptiste, Sarah Wiltshire (Hannah Mackenzie 74). Substitutes (not used): Chloe Crook, Katie O’Leary.
It’s a busy week for Spurs Ladies after such a long spell without a game. Millwall Lionesses are the visitors for a home game at Cheshunt FC on Wednesday (28 March, 7.30pm) before a journey down to the south coast to face Brighton next Sunday (1 April).