Durham Women vs Doncaster Rovers Belles

The fixtures in the WSL always seem to come in a block. The change to a winter season was meant to somewhat overcome that problem but it certainly hasn’t. Having not had a home game for almost three months before last weekend, Durham were playing their second of four home games within the space of 18 days today! With the move making the top-tier fully professional, it has made the remainder of this WSL2 season far from as competitive as it could be in my opinion. It’s been announced that only Brighton & Hove Albion Women are the only current WSL2 side who will be going full-time and that means there’s very little to play for at the top of the league. Doncaster and Millwall might battle it out to win the league but there’s no proper incentive to want to win the league.

Match report:

Doncaster Belles extend lead with hard-fought Durham win

Doncaster Rovers Belles extended their lead at the top of WSL2 to nine points with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Durham Women on Sunday afternoon.

In a game that could have went either way, the Belles came from behind with goals from Emily Simpkins and Jess Sigsworth.

Sarah Wilson had headed Durham into a 15th minute lead but Simpkins equalised just before the half hour mark.

Durham hit the crossbar twice, but it was Doncaster who took the points thanks to Sigsworth’s 60th minute strike.

Emily Roberts, Nicki Gears and Lauren Briggs all returned to the Durham starting XI, with Jordan Atkinson, Abi Cottam and Nicola Worthington having to be content with a place on the bench.

It was Doncaster who created the first chance of the game as Sophie Walton took responsibility of a 25-yard free-kick, but her drilled effort failed to find the target.

Despite failing to create any chances, Durham grew into the game and looked the brighter in the opening quarter of an hour.

With their first real chance, Durham broke the deadlock. Following good build up play, Gears’ fine work won a corner won the Wildcats a corner. Beth Hepple floated the corner into the penalty area to find Wilson and her bullet header gave Nicky Davies no chance.

Looking for an immediate response, Doncaster’s charged down on the Durham goal but her curling effort just say evaded the far corner.

Rather unconvincing defending gifted Durham a corner in the 21st minute. Zoe Ness rose to meet Hepple’s corner, but the Scotland international could only head over.

Following a short spell of pressure, the Belles pulled level in the 29th minute. Rebecca Rayner threaded a ball through to play Simpkins in and her confident finish beat the onrushing Helen Alderson.

Durham looked the brighter for the remainder of the first half. Hepple tested Davies with a stinger in the 35th minute, before Davies was forced into a superb save to tip Hepple’s long-range effort onto the crossbar.

Ness had a couple of efforts saved as the first half came to an end.

Had it not been for Davies in the Doncaster goal, Durham would have almost certainly gone into the break ahead.

Durham hit the crossbar for a second time less than a minute into the second half. Gears was played in and her lob had Davies beaten but bounced back off the crossbar.

Following a quiet 10 minutes, Rayner tested Alderson from long-range but it proved an easy save for the former Sunderland goalkeeper.

A sublime strike put the visitors ahead in the 61st minute. With the ball dropping on the edge of the penalty area, Sigsworth took aim. The former Notts County Ladies forward couldn’t have hoped for a better connection as her half volley dipped over Alderson and into the net.

Sigsworth could have collected her second in as many minutes seconds later but this time, she could only shoot wide.

Corners came at both ends, but neither side could create any chances from them.

In the 73rd minute, Durham almost pulled level through Worthington. Gears mounted a sharp counter attack and her low cross was dummied by Ness to find Worthington. The substitute took aim but could only drag wide.

Another chance fell the way of Worthington six minutes later. However, this time, Davies was able to save.

Cottam dragged wide with Durham’s last chance, and despite a fine effort, the Wildcats were beaten.

Full-time: Durham Women 1-2 Doncaster Rovers Belles

Next up for me is Ryhope CW vs Ashington on Tuesday night.

Durham Women: Alderson, Hill (Cottam, 83′), Wilson (c) (McCatty, 35′), Salicki, Johnson, Robson, Hepple (Worthington, 68′), Briggs, Roberts, Ness, Gears

Unused subs: Borthwick, Atkinson, Christon, Dalgliesh

Doncaster Rovers Belles: Davies, Newborough, Bradley-Auckland, Little, Pacheco, Tierney, Walton, Simpkins, Rayner, Hanson, Sigsworth

Subs (all unused): Davies, Cook, Whittle, Smith, Belding

Admission: £5 adults, £2 concessions

Attendance: 407

Programme: Sold out I presume

Chips: £2

Can of Coke: £1

Referee: Rebecca Welch

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