Cook: ‘We’re growing as a team’

Olivia Cook’s first ever senior goal earned Belles a draw against Guiseley at the weekend as they came back to draw 1-1.

Speaking after the game, Cook expressed her pride in how to team are currently performing, saying: “I’m really happy with the way we’ve been progressing as a team.

“We’re growing as a team, we’re gaining that experience – I was happy with today.”

The centre-back, who got herself on the scoresheet for the first time in her senior career, believes glimpses of the communication Belles displayed in the second half is vital going forward.

“I think one thing we’ve struggled with this season is communication.” Said Cook.

“Sometimes it just takes one person to kickstart it [the talking] and everyone gets talking to each other and you see the passion coming out.”

Early on in the second half, Cook made a potentially game-changing slide tackle to prevent Guiseley from having an open shot on goal.

“I thought, well if I give her a penalty she might score, but if I let her run through she might score so I had to do it whatever happened.” She said.

It wouldn’t be a Belles game without some late drama – and Batty’s injury-time penalty save provided just that, all but securing the point for her team, with Cook saying she had ‘every faith’ in her to make the crucial stop.


Report: Belles 1 Guiseley 1

by Natalie Higgins

Olivia Cook’s first ever senior goal and Emily Batty’s injury time penalty save earned the Belles a 1-1 comeback draw against Guiseley VixenS.

The last time the two sides met the Belles ran out impressive 4-1 victors, but here the Vixens came back with a fighting force, intent on claiming the points.

An even first half produced little in the way of action in front of goal, with the two sides effectively cancelling each other out.

Emily Burgin’s shot on goal in the opening few minutes was deflected by former Belles keeper Bethan Davies, only to be fired upon again by Abby Watkinson from the edge of the box, but again Davies was not defeated.

The Belles made some great breaks in the first half, particularly from Zoe Belding, but some runs were made a little too early and the girls were caught marginally offside.

After the team talk through half-time, the Belles had a new lease of life, were a lot more vocal on the pitch and pushing into the opposing half.

However, the first sign of danger for the Belles came in the 52nd minute when Batty mistimed her kick in an attempt to clear a Guiseley ball over the top, leaving a Guiseley attacker to make a break on an open goal – until Liv Cook pulled out a tremendous sliding tackle to knock the ball out for a corner just before the opposition fired a shot on goal.

Not long after, Hannah Shuttleworth played a great ball to find Burgin’s run. She tried to lob the ball over the keeper into the far corner but mishit it and it flew wide.

After a break in play where Burgin was subbed off for Nadia Khan through injury, Guiseley had caught a sudden burst of energy and enjoyed a period of sustained pressure, culminating in the visitors taking the lead through Alarna Fuller’s excellent header from familiar face Sophie Walton’s corner in the 84th minute.

Donny rallied quickly, however, with centre-back Cook putting herself on the scoresheet for the very first time on 89 minutes from Zoe Belding’s inswinging corner.

That wasn’t the end of the late drama, as a Guiseley player was brought down in the box in added time, with the referee pointing towards the penalty spot.

But Batty produced her latest penalty save of the season, going the right way to save the Belles from going behind in the final moments of the game.


Belles: (1-4-4-2) Emily Batty; Isabella Trevillion, Georgia Marshall, Olivia Cook, Lois Scholefield; Chloe Bethell, Zoe Belding, Hannah Shuttleworth, Kirsty Smith (Ellie Parkin 82); Emily Burgin (Nadia Khan 68), Abby Watkinson

Subs not used: Chloe Gray, Imani Todman.

Report: Belles 2 Huddersfield 2

Doncaster Rovers Belles were made to hold on superbly to take a 2-2 draw from a hugely entertaining game against high-flying Huddersfield.

The visitors sit second in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division table hammered the Belles 6-1 last time these sides met in September, but the Belles took this return fixture as an opportunity to show how far they have developed over the last five months.

The Belles had already shown their growing maturity in coming from 2-0 behind and 1-0 behind to claim draws in their last two games – against Sunderland and Nottingham Forest respectively.

But remarkably they found themselves 2-0 up on this occasion. Kirsty Smith opened the scoring after 21 minutes, smashing the ball in with a sweetly-struck left-footed drive that dipped in just under the bar.

Abby Watkinson went close to making in 2-0 seven minutes later, but was halted by a last-ditch Huddersfield tackle after rounding the goalkeeper.

But there was no stopping Chloe Bethell’s header on 31 minutes, with the winger looping the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper to give Donny an unlikely lead.

The visitors pulled one back six minutes later through Lucy Sowerby, who followed the ball in after Emily Batty had saved her first attempt.

Town had a goal disallowed before the break for offside, but Sarah Dobby chested the ball into the net from a corner midway through the second half to level things up for real.

That set up a nervous finish for Shaw and her side as they were made to ride out numerous corners and crossed free kicks, but the Belles saw it out to claim an excellent point.

Belles: (4-4-2): Emily Batty, Zoe Belding, Georgia Marshall, Liv Cook, Lois Scholefield, Chloe Bethell, Sheldon Ashton, Hannah Shuttleworth (Nadia Khan 66), Kirsty Smith (Imani Todman 90+1), Abby Watkinson, Emily Burgin

Subs not used: Chloe Gray, Isabella Trevillion

Report: Belles 1 Stoke City 2

Doncaster Rovers Belles fell short of a spirited ten-woman comeback from 2-0 down as Stoke City claimed victory in Rossington.

The visitors took the lead midway through the first half through Hannah Keryakoplis, who fired into the bottom corner to cap a period of sustained Stoke pressure.

Belles began to grow into the game before the break, with Abby Watkinson’s deflected shot after good work by Chloe Bethell down the right wing their best chance to draw level.

But their challenge was made that much harder on 63 minutes when Georgia Marshall received a second yellow card for a foul just outside the Belles box.

Stoke doubled their lead 12 minutes later, with Amy Hughes holding the ball up well on the edge of the box before firing another low shot past Emily Batty.

Donny pulled themselves back within touching distance with four minutes to go after Bethell was felled in the box, with substitute Emily Burgin powerfully converting the resulting penalty.

That set up a frantic finish to the game with the Belles looking to pile forward in numbers while Stoke sought to kill the game off.

Batty saved brilliantly from Keryakoplis to keep the hosts in with a shout in injury time, but the referee’s whistle came too soon for them to complete the turnaround.


Belles: (4-3-3): Emily Batty; Imani Todman, Georgia Marshall, Liv Cook, Lois Scholefield; Abby Watkinson (Kirsty Ditchfield 54), Sheldon Ashton, Kirsty Smith (Nadia Khan 83); Chloe Bethell, Emily Brett (Emily Burgin 54), Zoe Belding.

Subs not used: Chloe Gray, Isabella Trevillion

Report: Guiseley 1 Belles 4

Four goals from three different goalscorers away to Guiseley Vixens gave Doncaster Rovers Belles a much-deserved first win of the season.

Donny were made to regret individual defensive errors against Nottingham Forest and missed chances in attack against Hull, but things finally came together to give Zoey Shaw’s side a 4-1 win.

Zoe Belding put Donny ahead on 25 minutes, going clean through on goal off a ball over the top and finishing superbly past former Belles keeper Bethan Davies.

Guiseley had an effort ruled out for offside seven minutes later, but when Liv Auker found the net for a second time on 50 minutes, the equaliser stood.

Belding doubled her tally to fire the Belles back ahead on 67 minutes, smashing a half-cleared cross into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Belles captain Izzy Whittle made it 3-1 eight minutes later, rising in the six yard box to convert a wonderful Sheldon Ashton cross.

Chloe Bethell rounded off the scoring with second remaining on the clock, producing an unbelievable finish at the end of a devastating counter-attack.


Belles: (4-4-2): Emily Batty, Lois Scholefield, Georgia Marshall, Liv Cook, Isabella Trevillion,  Zoe Belding, Sheldon Ashton, Izzy Whittle, Chloe Bethell, Abby Watkinson, Emily Burgin

Subs not used: Holly Dodsworth, Imani Todman, Ellie Parkin, Aimee Hickingbotham, Nadia Khan

Report: Belles 0 Hull City 2

Doncaster Belles were once again made to rue their missed chances as Hull City ran out 2-0 winners in the FA WNL Northern Premier Division.

Donny hit the upright three times, with Zoe Belding and twice Liv Cook going close, and Chloe Bethell forced the Hull goalkeeper to made a recovery to avoid being caught off her line – all that action coming in the second half.

But after an even first period, Hull went ahead 13 minutes after the break, with Ellice Jackman heading in Amy Blinkhorn’s near-post delivery from a corner.

Cook’s duo of chances followed shortly after from a corner at the other end, with the defender’s initial header bouncing back out off the underside of the bar and her follow-up shot hitting the post.

Hope Knight doubled Hull’s lead on 80 minutes, stretching the Belles back four with some smart cross-field passing that allowed Amy Kay to square the ball for an easy finish.

It continues a familiar theme for the Belles, who have indisputably improved hugely since their 9-0 defeat to Blackburn on the opening day, but too often look nervous in defence and rushed in attack, leaving them still looking for their first points of the season.

Report: Belles 1 Forest 3

Doncaster Rovers Belles put in an improved performance against Nottingham Forest but conceded too cheaply to get anything out of the game.

This was the Belles’ best chance yet to get their first points in the FA WNL Northern Premier League, with Forest winless since the opening day of the season, but they were unable to seize the opportunity.

Sophia Bonser put the visitors ahead less than a minute into the game, beating Emily Batty from close range after the Belles failed to deal with a cross from the right.

Donny skipper Izzy Whittle levelled things back up on 26 minutes, exploiting Forest’s dithering over Sheldon Ashton’s through ball to steal in ahead of the goalkeeper and score with her weaker right foot.

Batty was forced into action six minutes later, coming off her line superbly to smother Katie Middleton’s shot.

Another Whittle chance from a through ball – this time provided by Georgia Marshall – came and went, with the midfielder unable to direct the ball towards goal.

Forest fired a warning shot on 49 minutes, with Batty tipping Kelly Darby’s powerful header onto the crossbar.

Less than seven minutes later, Forest were 3-1 up. Charlotte Griffin got the first, the smallest player on the pitch going unmarked at a corner and directing a header into the far top corner.

A Lois Scholefield own goal gave them the other, with the defender unfortunate to turn the ball into her own net after Batty had again saved a Middleton one-on-one.

The Belles were given the chance to pull once back from the spot on 66 minutes after a Whittle shot was handled in the box, but Forest keeper Emily Hallam guessed the right direction and saved Emily Burgin’s penalty with ease.

Forest again hit the bar with a free kick on 75 minutes, with Bonser’s strike bouncing off the upright and over.

Whittle again proved herself an unlikely goal threat late on, forcing Hallam to tip a 20-yard drive away from the top corner and over the bar.

Belles v Forest this Sunday!

Nottingham Forest Ladies will visit the Belles on Sunday 30th September as the FA WNL Northern campaign continues.

Forest have been winless since the opening day of the season and visit the Belles on a five-game losing streak.

However, Doncaster are themselves on a poor run of form and are yet to pick up a league point.

This promises to be a captivating game, with admission priced at just £3 for adults and £1 for children at our Rossington Main home. Kickoff is at 2pm on Sunday 30th September.

We will have all the action on our Twitter account (@donnybelles) and a report online shortly after the game.

Report: Derby 4 Belles 2

Derby County held off a spirited Belles fightback in a topsy-turvy game to claim a 4-2 victory in the FA WNL Northern division.

Undefeated Derby fell behind to Izzy Whittle’s early stunner, with the skipper finding the net with a 25-yard peach just minutes into the game – the first time the Belles have led a game this season.

Jodie Redgrave scored a quickfire double midway through the half to put Derby 2-1 up midway through the first half, before hitting the post as County kept the pressure on.

Cara Newton made it 3-1 before the break with a dinked finish, but Belles fired themselves back into the game, with Nadia Khan scoring her first senior goal on the rebound from a Belles penalty.

Donny continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, but a Derby counter-attack allowed them to put the result beyond doubt, with Stephanie Smith scoring the final goal.

Report: Belles 0 Middlesbrough 2

Doncaster Rovers Belles’ wait for their first points of the FA WNL Northern season continues after they fell to a 2-0 home victory to Middlesbrough.

Boro put the Belles under pressure from the early going, and found particular joy attacking down the left through England under-19s’ Emily Scarr.

The winger forced a stop out of Emily Batty after five minutes, and the keeper saved well again from the resulting corner to deny Emma Brown.

Sarah Cramer opened the the scoring for the visitors after 32 minutes: Donny were unable to get Scarr’s ball clear, and the midfielder powered the ball into the top corner.

Belles hit their first shot on target just before the break, with Olivia Cook getting forward from centre-back and trying one from just outside the box, but Laura Wareham made a comfortable stop.

Middlesbrough succeeding in limiting Doncaster to long shots, with Georgia Marshall and Emily Burgin both testing out Wareham without success.

The visitors then doubled their lead midway through the second half, with substitute Eleanor Dale powering a header past Batty from a corner.

Scarr could have made it three just a couple of minutes later after going clear through on goal off a defence-splitting pass, but Batty came off her line superbly to smother the danger.

Belles substitute Nadia Khan created a couple of issues in response, first beating the Boro right-back to force a last-ditch tackle from a covering defender, and then volleying a difficult dropping ball wide from a corner.

But Donny were ultimately unable to find a way through, leaving them still looking for their first goal and their first points of the league season.

Belles: (4-2-3-1): Emily Batty, Imani Todman (Holly Dodsworth 46), Olivia Cook, Izzy Whittle, Lois Scholefield, Georgia Marshall, Sheldon Ashton, Abby Watkinson, Chloe Bethell (Nadia Khan 62), Zoe Belding, Emily Burgin

Subs not used: Chloe Gray, Ellie Parkin, Ashleigh Edwards