Belles 2 Man City 1: England and Smith dispatch City’s starlets as Sigsworth stars

Gordon Staniforth. Photo: Submitted by Belles.
Gordon Staniforth. Photo: Submitted by Belles.

A Jess Sigsworth-inspired performance helped Gordon Staniforth’s side record a stunning victory over their top flight counterparts in the Continental Cup.

Facing City, who replaced them in the FAWSL1 following a much-criticised FA application process, the Belles struck in either half through a Beth England penalty and Sue Smith volley.

And the away side struggled to contain Sigsworth throughout as the Auckley forward helped create Doncaster’s second with a pinpoint delivery.

Millie Bright also proved lively for the hosts, stinging the palms of Karen Bardsley on a couple of occasions.

Lauren Cresswell later saw a trademark curling free-kick crash off the bar with Bardsley rooted in the 22nd minute.

That chance marked a strong spell for the Belles as Manchester’s starlets failed to register any clear-cut chances.

England had the ball in the net as she tapped in on 33 minutes following good work between Sue Smith and Sigsworth, however, the offside flag was raised.

Moments later, Bardsley clawed away a Rhiannon Roberts header at the far-post as Leandra Little’s follow-up sailed over.

The Belles continued to counter and were awarded for their efforts when England was hauled down in the area by City skipper Steph Houghton for a penalty.

The Doncaster midfielder stepped up to coolly slot home the spot-kick, giving Belles a 42nd minute lead.

The visitors began well after the restart but were left stunned when Sigsworth raced down the right before drilling in a cross into the path of Smith who volleyed home for a 2-0 lead with 55 minutes gone.

Nicola Hobbs’ blushes were later spared after being caught in possession, however, Toni Duggan failed to capitalise as the Belles recovered.

The away side then saw a drilled effort come back off the post before a late chance was blazed over the bar.

Duggan later netted for the visitors in stoppage time, however, it proved too late as the Belles clinched the victory.

Belles: Hobbs, Cunningham, Little, Sigsworth, Lipka, Smith, Bright, England, Thomas, Roberts, Cresswell. Subs: Chadwick, Williams, Mills, E.Johnson, Knight.

City: Bardsley, Harding, Lipman, Marsh, Shepherd, Hassett, Scott, Duggan, Christiansen, Flint, Houghton. Subs: Holbrook, Worrall, Johnson, Turner, McManus.

AttendanceL 308