Doncaster Rovers Belles’ young squad will ‘reflect and regroup’ after a 9-0 hammering at home to Blackburn Rovers.
Sunday’s one-sided contest marked the start of a new era for Belles - who have dropped into the FA Women’s National League, appointed a new head coach and switched their home venue from the Keepmoat Stadium to Rossington Main.
Since the end of last season EVERY member of the first team squad has moved elsewhere.
Out of the 11 teenage debutants who lined up against reigning champions Blackburn only five had previously played for Belles’ development side.
The rest of the matchday squad was made up of youngsters from the club’s junior age group teams.
“The quality of the squad they’ve got at Blackburn speaks for itself with what they’ve won in the past,” Belles head coach Zoey Shaw said post-match.
“I thought we had good spells in the game for such a young squad with most of them playing senior football for the first time.
“The experience for them is huge and the amount of pressure they must have felt on their shoulders was probably a lot for them to handle, but they got through it quite well considering.
“We’ve just got to reflect on it on Monday, regroup on Tuesday, and we start again,” she added.
“We’re always working to better ourselves, individually and as a team, and we’re in it for the long run. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
Trailing 5-0 at the break, Shaw switched to three at the back at half time and could see positives in the second half performance.
“It was a gamble going three at the back but they did extremely well,” she said.
“Emily Batty, the goalkeeper, made endless saves, and Georgia Marshall and Holly Dodsworth, the centre-backs, are only 16 and they really relished the challenge.
“The change of formation did well for us and we held them off in the second half for a good 21 minutes, and for us that’s massive.
“But Blackburn’s experience just shows through more than what we’ve got at the moment.”