DONCASTER Rovers Belles failed to lift the gloom hanging over the Keepmoat Stadium following Crawley’s earlier win over Dean Saunders’ men
In their first ever double-header with Rovers, Belles crashed to a. 4-0 FA Women’s Super League defeat against the defending champions and current league leaders.
The game was effectively over as a contest by half-time with the Gunners leading 3-0, but John Buckley’s side showed commendable character in the second half to restrict the classy Gunners to just one more goal.
With a bit more luck, Belles could have had a couple of goals of their own after the break.
“They are a very good side but two of their first half goals came from our mistakes,” said Buckley. “I thought that we did better in the second half and we kept going, but they’ve got so much quality. They’ll walk the league”
The experiment of offering Rovers’ season-ticket holders free admission to the game, which kicked off just over an hour after the club’s 1-0 League One defeat against the Red Devils, didn’t result in the hoped-for attendance boost and less than 400 watched the game.
The fact that Rovers lost, and the weather was cool and showery, probably didn’t help and both parties will be hoping for a better response when the ground-breaking initiative is repeated on Saturday week.
Those Rovers fans who did take in the game, will no doubt have been impressed by the way that Arsenal passed the ball about and retained possession. Belles worked hard to try and close them down but they were often chasing shadows - especially in the first half.
Arsenal took an early lead, Jordan Nobbs rewarding some neat build-up play when producing a clinical finish to beat keeper Mary Earps from about ten yards out on five minutes.
Aine O’Gorman worked hard down the left for Belles and just cleared the crossbar for Belles with a dipping 30 yarder on 12 minutes.
Left-back Lyndsey Cunningham pushed forward but was closed down by two defenders on the edge of the box on 18 minutes.
Arsenal doubled their lead three minutes later, Kelly Smith supplying the pass for Nobbs to net her second.
Katie Chapman gave Earps no chance from around the penalty spot on 44 minutes after getting on the end of Rachel Yankey’s pass.
Belles did better in the second half and young striker Millie Bright had a couple of half chances
Substitute Emily Heckler just failed to make contact with Lucy Sowerby’s cross in front of goal late on. Little had earlier hammered the final nail into Belles’ coffin with a superb 20 yard strike on 78 minutes