Doncaster Belles: Black Cats are the purr-fect test for pacesetting Belles

Sue Smith celebrates. Photo: Darren Neagle
Sue Smith celebrates. Photo: Darren Neagle

Gordon Staniforth expects fellow promotion-hopefuls Sunderland to ‘raise their game’ when the pair meet next week.

The Belles have just finished a gruelling fixtures programme which saw the side play three games in the space of eight days - all ending in victories for Doncaster.

Reading, top flight side Manchester City and Durham WFC all fell victim to confident Belles displays.

Doncaster currently sit at the top of both the FAWSL2 and their Continental Cup group.

Next up is Women’s Premier League champions Sunderland in the league on May 15 and Staniforth is expecting a tough challenge against the Black Cats.

“I saw Sunderland play Durham last week and they are a very good team,” said the Belles chief.

“They didn’t get a very good result against Liverpool (lost 6-0) but I think they’ll raise their game for us and we’ll look forward to that.

“We’ve got belief in the side now. That belief is that we are very difficult to beat and that we will always create chances - that’s great to go into matches with.”

Following on from their comfortable 5-2 win over Reading, the Belles headed into their crunch Continental Cup match with Manchester City - the side who replaced Doncaster following last year’s controversial FA application process.

An all-round battling display from the hosts saw City’s slickers stunned as Beth England dispatched a penalty before Sue Smith rifled in a second half volley.

The shell-shocked Blues managed some form of a comeback when Toni Duggan slotted in during stoppage time, however, the final whistle sparked celebrations on the Keepmoat turf.

Last Thursday’s memorable result was followed up three days later with a 3-1 victory at Durham WFC.

Penalties from in-form duo Smith and Jess Sigsworth, either side of Emma Johnson’s first goal for the club, finished off their Continental Cup opponents who could only respond through Caroline Dixon.

Staniforth said: “We didn’t play as well as we did on Thursday against Manchester City and Durham made it very difficult for us. But I’m pleased with the three points.”