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