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.


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.


Statement: Rovers and Club Doncaster

Following the announcement that we will play our home games as Rossington Main for the 2018/19 season, Doncaster Rovers Belles would like to reassure fans that we will continue our relationship with Doncaster Rovers and Club Doncaster.

We are proud to have worked in partnership with Rovers since 2003. However, for a number of reasons, the Belles coaching and commercial staff feel that Rossington will be a more suitable home for the club this season.

The Belles will continue to work in close partnership with both parties, including running training and our Regional Talent Club at Keepmoat Stadium facilities and using the Rovers name.

Vacancy: RTC Technical Director

Doncaster Rovers Belles are looking for a Technical Director to join our talented Regional Talent Club (RTC) staff.

The Belles philosophy relies heavily on the production of excellent young players from within its RTC.

The primary purpose of the role is to develop and implement a technical / tactical player and coach development programme across all age groups within Doncaster Rovers Belles RTC programme in line with FA criteria.

This role will identify and support the development of elite female players within a technical and educational programme to enable them to fulfil their sporting potential.

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 28th August.

Click here to download the full job specification and details of how to apply.

Shaw eager to get started

Belles head coach Zoey Shaw is itching to get the new the new season underway as her side take on Blackburn Rovers in the first game of the campaign.

Blackburn romped to the title by ten clear points last season to successfully defend their FA WNL Northern trophy, and Shaw admits her side face a battle in Sunday’s season opener.

She said: “I don’t think the first game could have got any tougher, if I’m honest, but we’ve got to play them at some time.

“We’ll play them and we’ll learn and they will learn off us. We’ll have things to counteract some of the things they’ve got, so bring it on I say.

“Our preparation is going really well. The girls are fully in training now, and over the summer the levels of fitness and the physicality have shot up.

“It’s just about mastering the game because we’ve got a lot of youth in the squad at the moment, so we’re just making the most of our sessions and grabbing every little bit we can. The players have come in for extra sessions and we’re just eager for it to start to be honest.”

Despite being new to the role Shaw is very familiar with much of the current squad, having managed many of them in the development team before making the step up to the first team alongside them for the new campaign.

She said: “It’s no secret when you play us that we’ve got quite a young squad but I think we’ve got a very exciting squad.

“We may not have the depth in age, but what these girls are going to learn this season – not just from us as coaches and a club, but playing in this kind of environment and this league – will be massive for their development.

“If we can progress these girls as much as we can for next season, when we can really really start to establish ourselves, then I think we stand ourselves in good stead.

“I think the excitement for them and the task ahead they’ve got, they’re really really relishing. Individually they’re really up for it, they’re up for every training session, and for some of these girls stepping up from the RTC at 16 or 17 it’s a big step, but they’ve embraced it.

“Whatever we learn this season – as a team, as a club, or individually as players – it’s massive for us.”


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 drawn with Chorley in WNL Cup

Doncaster Rovers Belles have been drawn with Chorley FC in the determining  round of the FA WNL Cup.

The game is scheduled to be played on Sunday 2nd September at Rossington Main, 2pm kickoff. Tickets will be available on the gate.

The winner will progress into the round of 32 for the cup, with the losing side filtering off into the FA WNL Plate.

The Belles have appeared in the WNL Cup final on three occasions in 1994, 1996 and 2009, but it remains one of the few trophies missing from our cabinet.

New captain Whittle ready for season

Zoey Shaw has selected Izzy Whittle to take the armband from long-time skipper Leandra Little, while her deputy will be Olivia Cook.

Both players have experienced life in WSL and are hoping to help impart some of the good habits they have picked up onto the rest of the Belles’ new-look squad.

New skipper Whittle said: “We’re looking to continue the standards set by the first team from last year, in everything from starting training, finishing training, media, what we do off the pitch – we’ve been around them and watched what they do and done it ourselves, and we’ll pass that on.

“We really want to grab it with both hands and really give it a good go.”

Vice-captain Cook added: “It’s a great opportunity for us to take on this kind of leadership role.

“A young squad doesn’t necessarily mean a weak squad, and we have a lot of people who are willing to learn in an elite-level setup. We’ve got something to prove this season.”

Despite winning the WSL2 title last year, circumstances off the pitch mean this will be the Belles’ first season playing in the Women’s National League, and both players confirmed they are raring to go as the club takes on a brand new challenge.

Whittle said: “It’s going to be a tough league, with the likes of Sunderland and Sheffield taking the step down alongside us.

“Then you’ve also got some very capable teams already in there like Blackburn, who won it last year.

“So it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s one we’re all looking forward to. There’s a really positive mentality from top to bottom at the Belles, and a big part of that is that we don’t shy away from a challenge.

“We’ve got a very young squad so it’s going to be a steep learning curve for a lot of them, but that’s how you improve and it’s really positive to see younger players getting a chance to play competitive football.”

The Belles first game of the new season will be against reigning champions Blackburn Rovers, who won the Women’s National League Northern by ten clear points last season, only to lose their playoff against Southern champions Charlton Athletic.

That means the Belles are expecting a stern test against the Lancashire outfit, but Cook said: “It’s better to start with the biggest challenge first and see where you’re at.”

Whittle echoed that sentiment, saying: “It’s a team to compare ourselves to, isn’t it, because they were unlucky not to move up a league last year.”


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.

2018/19 squad announcement

Head Coach Zoey Shaw has unveiled the Doncaster Rovers Belles first team squad for the 2018/19 season.

The new-look squad will be led by new captain Izzy Whittle, while Olivia Cook will serve as Whittle’s deputy.

Shaw said: “We have a long history of giving chances to young players and we’re proud to continue that as we go into our 50th year celebrations.

“All the staff and squad are really excited the start the new season. It doesn’t get much tougher than going up against Blackburn for our opening game, but we’ll get an instant indication of where the bar has been set in this division.”

Playing squad

Captain: Izzy Whittle
Vice-captain: Olivia Cook
Sheldon Ashton
Emily Batty
Zoe Belding
Chloe Bethell
Emily Burgin
Emily Cahill
Holly Dodsworth
Ashleigh Edwards
Chloe Gray
Aimee Hickingbotham
Nadia Khan
Georgia Marshall
Ellie Parkin
Lois Scholefield
Kirsty Smith
Imani Todman
Isabella Travillion
Abby Watkinson
Issy Williams


Zoey Shaw
Sally Needham
Amy Buxton
Julie Chipchase
Luke Gray