• Ladies first team vs Doncaster Rovers Belles (1-1)
  • Ladies first team vs Doncaster Rovers Belles (1-1)
  • Ladies first team vs Doncaster Rovers Belles (1-1)
  • Ladies first team vs Doncaster Rovers Belles (1-1)

Ladies first team vs Doncaster Rovers Belles (1-1)


Sunday 14 April, 2019 - 14.00 FA WNL Northern Division

Sheffield's Millee Clarke scored a fantastic left-footed screamer midway through the second half, cancelling out Doncater Rovers Belles' first-half opener to share the spoils in an eventful South Yorkshire clash at the Home of Football stadium.

Tensions were understandably running high for the two sides, both positioned at the wrong end of the FA WNL Northern Premier division table in spite of impressive unbeaten runs in recent weeks. 

The visitors entered the match having picked up points in each of their last six matches (five draws preceded a win last time out at Bradford City).  Sheffield meanwhile had notched up three wins and a draw since the start of manager Calum Oakenfold's tenure.

Nerves were visible in the early stages, with both team's rhythm disrupted by wayward touches and overhit passes, although Sheffield had the territorial advantage in the opening period. Emma Johnson showed her quality early on, turning on the edge of the Belles area and firing a vicious left-footed strike clipping the top of the net as it whistled over Emily Batty's goal after just five minutes.

Johnson was involved again shortly after when a good delivery from a free-kick found Sammy Conroy at the back post, her effort only able to find the side netting.

Nicole Kemp had to be removed on 25 minutes after an ankle injury and, after starting reasonably well, Sheffield struggled to recover from this, which allowed Belles into the match as the half progressed. 

A fantastic double save from Sheffield stopper Serena Clarke might have seen Belles take the lead in the 29th minute when a strong free kick was well-cleared by the young 'keeper's boot, and the follow up shot powerfully palmed away to the side as she recovered superbly across her goal.

At the other end, the way to goal opened up for Megan Tinsley breaking off the left side after a great ball forward by Conroy which was helped in the forward's path by Lisa Giampalma, but her volleyed effort ended up over the bar. 

With the half drawing to a close, its was the visitors that pounced to grab the advantage when a wayward pass into the Sheffield midfield squandered possession and the ball was worked to Chloe Bethell, via Abby Watkinson, who struck powerfully past the helpless Clarke to give the visitors the lead.

HT: 0-1

Sheffield emerged with greater intent into the second half. Conroy - who proved a threat in the box throughout the game - again connected with a Tinsley free-kick, this time her effort was brilliantly pushed onto the post by Batty at close range.

Just before the hour mark, Millee Clarke was introduced for Sheffield and immediately had an impact, linking with Giampalma racing away down the right, her cutback returned to Clarke whose effort was partially blocked before Batty made the save.  Moments later, Clarke again had a half chance, this time her shot was well-dealt with in the Donny goal.

Another excellent stop by Batty then denied Tinsley whose powerful run and outstretched leg poked the ball towards goal, but the Belles â€˜keeper's fingertips forced the ball to trickle just the wrong side of the post.

It was a moment of magic that eventually beat the Belles blockade. A cross from the left was whipped in by Tinsley, the half-clearance only found Clarke on the edge, whose first touch was good, the second better making just enough space to fire a rasping left-footed strike searing into the top corner over the diving Batty's gloves. 

Tails up, Sheffield pushed for a winner in the final ten minutes with Ellie Hawcroft heading narrowly wide off a Tinsley cross, then Tinsley striking a good shot but too close to Batty, before Giampalma and Clarke looked to be through, but Belles recovered well to concede a corner.

A free-kick to the right of the area gave Sheffield one last roll of the dice in stoppage time. Tinsley's delivery looking for the head of the in-rushing Conroy who was pushed in the back attempting to connect, but an unmoved referee waved Sheffield's penalty claims away and blew for full-time. 

FT: 1-1

So both teams left frustrated perhaps but entertaining the two sets of supporters who had turned out in good numbers to witness a first competitive draw between the South Yorkshire rivals. 

Photos courtesy of Joe Smart and Josh Myers.