DONCASTER Belles were edged out of the Women's FA Cup final 2-1 by Croydon Ladies at a sun-soaked Bramall Lane on Monday.
The Bank Holiday crowds witnessed an entertaining game of football which both sides could have won, but in the end a missed penalty from Doncaster and a scrappy winner from Croydon was all that separated the two teams.Karen Walker had the first chance when a desperate save from Croydon and England 'keeper Pauline Cope stopped her heading home a good cross, and Mel Garside was also lively, having perhaps the best of the early chances when she volleyed just wide of the right post from a Walker cross.But Croydon took the lead with their first shot on goal after 21 minutes when player/manager Debbie Bampton crossed for Carmaine Walker to powerfully headed home.However, 15 minutes later the Belles were back on level terms when Karen Walker lost her markers with ease to cross for Vicky Exley to head home.Ten minutes into the half Denise Thomas put through a good ball for Walker, who was up-ended by the 'keeper just inside the box to concede the penalty.But although powerful, Walker's effort was easily stopped by her England colleague Cope, who revealed after the game that her penalty practices with Walker during England's European Championship qualifier against Portugal had influenced her decision to dive to the right.Croydon's winner came after 68 minutes when Gemma Hunt lobbed Doncaster goalie Leanne Hall, her shot bouncing off both posts and just trickling over the line before Hall could scoop it out.Belles manager Julie Chipchase said after the game: "I'm obviously disappointed. The girls heads are down right now. They gave their all, but it wasn't to be."We played our way back into it after their first goal, but half time came too soon for us, and as for their second goal, according to our 'keeper Leanne it did cross the line, so we've no complaints."