vs. Doncaster Rovers Belles (2 : 2)
FA WSL Development Northern Division
Georgia Willson & Ella Hartley’s first half strikes for Sheffield FC Ladies Development were cancelled out by late Doncaster Rovers Belles goals in each half, to share the points in the local derby, leaving both clubs with work to do in order to finish third.
Sheffield’s final home game of the season saw familiar local rivals Doncaster Rovers Belles visit, with just a place and a point separating the two clubs. Local bragging rights weren’t the only focus with both teams chasing a third place finish and games quickly running out.
It was Sheffield who started the game the brighter, looking to get the ball down and find openings in the opposition defence. Beth Ibbotson was providing the catalyst for the home team’s attacking play, consistently releasing Megan Tinsley and Shannon Durkin, whilst Millee Clarke’s footwork provided a solid outlet down the right side.
Sheffield were rewarded early when Willson found herself with time to coolly dispatch her third goal of the season, putting the hosts in the driving seat at 1-0.
Sheffield continued to ask questions, looking to attack and commit bodies forward which paid dividends when captain Hartley doubled Club’s lead, placing the ball beyond the opposition keeper from the edge of the box.
Hartley would be the protagonist again minutes later with a powerful effort from range, but this time the Belles defence were equal to it.
As the half wore on, Willson had the ball in the net for a third time after a fluid team move saw her lob the ball over an on rushing keeper, only to be adjudged offside.
Moments later it was Doncaster who would ask the question of the Sheffield defence, a free-kick, wide left, thrown into the box and put away to halve Sheffield’s lead.
The second half brought about a scrappier game, with many a stoppage and limited chances created by either team.
Sheffield set about putting the game to bed whilst Doncaster left bodies forward in an attempt to level the scores, and it was the latter who prevailed right at the death. A late corner was not adequately cleared and a high-quality finish found its way into the top corner.
With time running out, neither side was able to fashion a late winner meaning the points were shared.
Sheffield manager, Kyle O’Reilly gave his thoughts after the final whistle:
“It’s a tough result to take after we performed well. We were aware of the threats Doncaster posed with their pace and threat on set pieces and, for most part, we handled them well.”
“At 2-1, we needed that third goal really, but sadly it wasn’t to be. Credit to Doncaster who didn’t give in. It’s a positive advertisement for local football when rivals are battling out at the top end of the table’”
“We now need a positive result away at Sunderland, and hope other results go our way, if we’re to finish in third. There’s a slim opportunity of that, but we have to be ready to take it.”