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

Whittle: ‘Let’s get cracking!’

Doncaster Rovers Belles captain Izzy Whittle hopes that dressing room’s positive spirit can inspire the side to their first points of the season in Sunday’s league clash with Middlesbrough.

The Belles sustained heavy defeats in their first two FA WNL Northern encounters, but there were plenty of positives to take from their last outing as Donny took Chorley to penalties in a 2-2 draw – with both goals coming from Whittle.

“We need to get cracking in the league,” she said.

“We’ve not had the best start but we’re still in high spirits. We’re together, we’re upbeat, we’re positive, and we just need to start getting some results. We’re doing it in training, it’s just not quite transferring to the pitch yet in matches.

“It’s a matter of learning to sustain our good spells and start quicker. We don’t seem to start fighting until we need to fight, when it would be great to be on the front foot from the beginning. We’re looking to get out of the blocks quickly against Middlesbrough on Sunday.

“We were talking about it the other day in the changing room and we’re not inexperienced as a unit. We may be young but lots of us have played for years and years.

“There’s other teams in the league that are sort of the same age, so it’s not really an excuse to say ‘we’re inexperienced, we’re young’; we know what we should be doing, we just need to start doing it.”

After being unavailable for our season opener, Whittle has gone the distance in both of the Belles’ last two games, including playing the full 120 minutes in last weekend’s cup clash with Chorley.

That game went all the way to sudden death in a penalty shootout after Whittle twice equalised from set pieces

The shootout went Chorley’s way, meaning the Belles narrowly missed out on progress to the next round and will now play in the FA WNL Plate.

But Whittle is keen to take the positives out of that improved performance, saying:  “I missed the first game and obviously Stoke wasn’t the result we wanted. Chorley was better, it was a fight. We came so close and it hurts to go out on penalties.

“It felt great to get my first couple of goals. I didn’t realise until I saw it on Twitter afterwards that we’d equalised so late on, so that was ace. It feels good to get some goals.”

The first of Whittle’s double came courtesy of a dominant header, with the captain rising high in the box to nod into the Chorley goal.

That led General Manager Sheila Edmunds to compare the captain to her predecessor and fellow centre-back Leandra Little, who led Donny to the WSL2 trophy last season, scoring twice along the way.

Whittle said: “Obviously I was here while Lea was captain and I’m just trying to emulate what she did, in terms of the sort of stuff she did in training, the way she prepared for matches, and obviously being a big centre-back scoring headers at corners as well!”

“Playing every week, and sometimes twice a week, is really good. It’s a competitive league as well, and it’s good to get some minutes. We’re starting to get a bit of team cohesion, but we need to see that translating into more complete performances.”

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The Belles take on Middlesbrough in the FA WNL Northern Division at Rossington Main on Sunday 9th September – kick off is at 2pm.

Tickets will be £3 for adults and £1 for children and can be purchased on the gate.

The ground can be found at Oxford St, Rossington, DN11 0TE. Details on parking at the ground can be found here.

Shaw: ‘We need to fight from start’

We spoke to manager Zoey Shaw following Sunday’s penalty defeat to Chorley in the FA WNL Cup determining round.

Izzy Whittle scored a pair of equalisers to force the game to extra time, but the side ultimately went out on penalties and will now compete in the FA WNL Plate.

Shaw: “I think we got off to a bit of a slow start and that’s something the girls and I will have to work on. We need to come out of the traps from the off because if not we concede and we’re chasing the game.

“But I think we did well to get ourselves back into the game. We did well with our attacking set pieces with Izzy to get the first equaliser, and then we started to play football, but the moral of the story is it was a little bit too late in the 90 minutes.

“We grew into the game and I was saying to the other staff on the bench that when we’re in a fight and there’s something on the line like when we get into the last ten minutes and we’re trailing or there’s going to be penalties, that’s when we step up and play our best football.

“But the girls have got to find something within themselves to get that from the start and that’s going to be our focal point for the next couple of sessions in training.

“I said to the girls after the game we have no excuses: everyone’s back, there’s nobody missing. But what I was impressed by was the desire to keep going.

“Chorley are a good side. Just because they’re in the fourth tier, they’ve played together for many years so they know where each other are on the pitch. They’re capable of quick football, and they’ve got that experience, and our girls are gaining that.

“I’m not going to keep saying ‘they’re young’ or ‘they’re going to learn’, because they play football just like anybody else. It’s just about playing themselves in the next game.

“Liv Cook had an outstanding game, as did Emily Batty. That save she made on that penalty, it was going in all day. Izzy Whittle had a good game and I thought Emily Burgin, when she came on straight from the RTC, for a player of her age, she rose to the occasion. She changed the game when she came on, and if players can do that then we’re doing something right.

“I said to the girls that I wasn’t disappointed in their performance, just in the result, that it went that way towards to end, because with penalties it’s anyone’s game.”

Report: Belles 2 Chorley 2 (3-4 pens)

Doncaster Rovers Belles will continue on into the WNL Plate after losing a penalty shootout to Chorley FC.

The Belles twice had to come from behind in normal time to force the game to go the full distance, with captain Izzy Whittle bagging a brace from a pair of set pieces.

Chorley then squeaked through in the shootout to book their place in the next round of the WNL Cup.

The visitors first took the lead after 11 minutes via captain Laura Walker’s perfectly-struck penalty, awarded after Holly Dodsworth felled a Magpies attacker in the box.

The Belles’ best opportunities of the first half came from set pieces, with Whittle nodding a corner well wide of the post on 23 minutes.

The captain went close again 13 minutes later from another corner, unleashing a shot to the bottom corner after Chorley failed to get it clear.

Chorley keeper Rachel Darbyshire tipped that effort wide, but was unable to do anything about Whittle’s header from the resulting corner as Donny scored their first goal of the season.

The visitors levelled things up again on 59 minutes, with Rebecca Kemp driving in from the right touchline and putting a surprise shot past Emily Batty from out wide.

Just as in the first half, the hosts grew into the game as time wore on, particularly after Zoey Shaw switched from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 midway through the half.

That allowed the Belles to ramp up the pressure, with substitute Emily Burgin going clean through on goal six minutes from time but shooting narrowly wide of the post under pressure from the onrushing Darbyshire.

Having scored her first-ever senior goal earlier in the game, centre-back Whittle bagged her second in injury time, scrambling the ball home from point-blank range after yet another dangerous Belles corner.

Burgin put a header on goal four minutes into stoppage time after Georgia Marshall’s long throw was flicked on to her, but Darbyshire made a vital save to force the game to extra time.

Grace Vella narrowly missed Chorley’s best chance of the extra 30 minutes, curling the ball just wide of Batty’s post, and Whittle headed yet another corner into Darbyshire’s arms.

Chorley striker Scarlett Smith had a wonderful chance to prevent the game from going to penalties, but after barging her way past a Belles defender she dragged her shot wide of the far post.

Both Walker and Whittle saw their sides’ opening kicks in the shootout saved, and Vella put Chorley ahead after Darbyshire stopped Sheldon Ashton’s effort.

Marshall, Abby Watkinson and Belding all scored for the Belles, with Lisa Topping and Smith doing likewise for Chorley.

Rebecca Kemp then blazed what could have been the winning penalty over the bar for the visitors well over the bar.

But Darbyshire saved again to deny Burgin in sudden death, and Megan Season made no mistake in reply to put Chorley through to the next round of the Cup.

Belles: (3-5-2): Emily Batty, Holly Dodsworth (Imani Todman 73), Izzy Whittle, Olivia Cook, Zoe Belding, Georgia Marshall, Sheldon Ashton, Ellie Parkin (Ashleigh Edwards 59), Lois Scholefield, Chloe Bethell (Emily Burgin 77), Abby Watkinson

Subs not used: Nadia Khan, Aimee Hickingbotham

Shaw: It’s a marathon, not a sprint

Belles head coach Zoey Shaw hopes the experience of playing against the best side in the division will give her side an indication of where the bar is set.

As champions of the FA WNL Northern Division for the past two years, Blackburn were always likely to pose a stern test to a young Belles side, all of whom were making their senior debuts for the club.

Shaw said: “The quality of the squad they’ve got at Blackburn speaks for itself with what they’ve won in the past.

“I thought we had good spells in the game today for such a young squad with most of them playing senior football for the first time. The experience for them is huge and the amount of pressure they must have felt on their shoulders today was probably a lot for them to handle, but they got through it quite well considering.”

Shaw made a switch at the break, bringing on an extra defender to shore things up, and for the opening portion of the second half it stood firm against Blackburn’s bombardment.

She said: “It was a gamble going three at the back but they did extremely well. Emily Batty, the keeper, made endless saves, and Georgia Marshall and Holly Dodsworth, the centre-backs, are only 16 and they really relished the challenged.

“The change of formation did well for us and we held them off in the second half for a good 21 minutes, and for us that’s massive. But Blackburn’s experience just shows through more than what we’ve got through at the moment.

“We’ve just got to reflect on it, regroup on Tuesday, and we start again. We’re always working to better ourselves, individually and as a team, and we’re in it for the long run. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

Report: Belles 0 Blackburn 9

Doncaster Belles’ inexperience showed as they slipped to a 9-0 home loss to Blackburn Rovers.

Blackburn have won this division in both of the last two seasons but been denied promotion, and they gave this young Belles side – all of whom were making their debuts – a harsh lesson on the standard they will need to reach in this league.

The Belles’ young side found themselves five goals down at the break, with Saffron Jordan opening the scoring for Blackburn after just nine minutes, and Natasha Flint made it two just six minutes later off a ball over the top.

Lagan Makin and Kayleigh McDonald each struck within three minutes of each other as champions Blackburn put the result beyond doubt.

Lyn Shepherd rounded out the scoring for the first half on 38 minutes, looping an unstoppable header into the far corner from a Blackburn set piece.

Belles manager Zoey Shaw made both personnel and tactical changes at the break, bringing on Ellie Parkin in place of Emily Burgin as the Belles moved to three at the back.

That held back the tide for a while, but Blackburn’s superior conditionin and much greater experience lead to them extending the lead yet further in the final 21 minutes.

Jordan scored twice more either side of Makin’s second to secure herself a hat-trick, with McDonald and Shepherd also completing braces in the final five minutes.

Belles: (4-2-3-1): Emily Batty, Emily Burgin (Ellie Parkin 46), Holly Dodsworth, Georgia Marshall, Lois Scholefield, Ashleigh Edwards (Emily Cahill 75), Sheldon Ashton, Zoe Belding, Chloe Bethell, Aimee Hickingbotham (Imani Todman 61), Abby Watkinson

Subs not used: Chloe Gray, Isabella Trevillion

Head-to-head: Belles v Blackburn

  • The last time these two sides met in a competitive fixture was in 2009-10, the final season before the introduction of the FA Women’s Super League in 2011.
  • Blackburn met Donny eight times in the Premier League following their promotion in 2006, with Belles winning four, drawing one and losing three.
  • The aggregate score across those eight fixtures was 15-11 to the Belles.
  • The Belles have been unbeaten in their last four clashes with the Lancashire outfit.
  • The highest scoring encounter was in the last competitive meeting. The Belles recorded a 5-1 away victory, with goals from Vicky Exley (2), Liz Hansen (2) and Precious Hamilton.
  • Carla Cantrell (Belles, 2009) and Katie Anderton (Blackburn, 2006) are the only other players to bag a brace in this fixture.
  • Players to have played for both clubs include: Katie Anderton, Karen Burke, Danielle Cox, Jayne Eadie, Danielle Hill, Vanessa Holmes (nee Leat), Emma Johnson, Jade Radburn, and Rhiannon Roberts.

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Our 2018/19 season opener against Blackburn Rovers will be played at Rossington Main on Sunday 19th August, 2pm KO.

Tickets will be £3 for adults and £1 for children and can be purchased on the gate.

The ground can be found at Oxford St, Rossington, DN11 0TE. Details on parking at the ground can be found here.

Belles to play home games at Rossington

Doncaster Rovers Belles are pleased to confirm that we will be playing our home games at Rossington Main for the 2018/19 season.

Our first game at Rossington will be played this Sunday (19th August) at 2pm as the Belles take on reigning FA WNL Northern champions Blackburn Rovers. Tickets are £3 for adults and £1 for children, and can be purchased on the gate.

Belles General Manager Sheila Edmunds said: “This is a new chapter in the proud history of the Belles as we enter our 50th year.

“We are really pleased that Rossington Main and their chairman, Carl Stokes, have agreed to support us with the use of their facilities.

“The change of venue to Rossington is more suitable and appropriate for our young, developing squad of players, and represents an opportunity for us at the Belles to reach out to the community of Doncaster.”

We would also like to reassure fans that we will continue our relationship with Doncaster Rovers and Club Doncaster – our statement on that can be found here.