Doncaster Rovers Belles 2 Aston Villa Ladies 1

Bethany England, who scored Belles second against Villa.
Bethany England, who scored Belles second against Villa.
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After her strike helped Doncaster Rovers Belles return to the top of FA WSL 2 with a tight victory over Aston Villa, Bethany England admits her side were relieved to withstand the visitors’ late onslaught.

Goals from Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and England got the hosts back to winning ways at the Keepmoat, after dropping their first points of the season in a draw with Everton last time out.

Abi Cottam replied for Villa with a sublime half-volley before Belles keeper Nicola Hobbs made a string of important saves, to the delight of England.

“The girls just put in a battle. It was a bit more of a fight towards the end, but we pulled through,” she said.

“We got a good goal just before half time from Courtney, and luckily I got mine in.

“I’m gutted that we conceded because I think we got caught out of position a bit in midfield, but we’ll take the win and we’re happy.

“You can’t expect to win 5-0 every game. They put a tough team out, a different team, and they battled hard, but in the end we got the good result.”

Hobbs showed excellent reflexes on 35 minutes to keep out Katie Wilkinson’s point-blank header, before Emily Roberts nodded Sue Smith’s cross against the crossbar five minutes later.

Sweetman-Kirk opened the scoring from another Smith cross a minute before the break.

The striker then slipped after rounding Villa keeper Caitlin Leach on 57 minutes, but was instrumental as she teed up Smith to cross for England’s header to the far post with 15 minutes to go.

Villa deservedly pulled a goal back as Cottam steered a superb effort past Hobbs from 20 yards, before the finale was marred by a late injury to visiting midfielder Kerri Welsh, who was carried off.

And despite defeat, Villa head coach Joe Hunt is confident his side are making rapid progress, having lost 5-0 to Belles just three weeks ago.

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