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.”
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.