Doncaster Rovers Belles boss Emma Coates admits her side have left themselves with ‘Everest to climb’ after losing to relegation rivals Reading.
Emily Simpkins found the net for Belles but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as the Royals ran out 4-1 winners at the Keepmoat Stadium - their first ever win in FAWSL1.
Defeat leaves rock bottom Doncaster still without a point from 11 league games. They are now nine points adrift of Reading and Sunderland with five games left to play.
Following Saturday’s defeat, Coates said: “It’s frustrating because we dominated that first half, absolutely dominated it and week by week, game by game we’re getting better but it’s lapses of concentrations again that are costing us.
“At 2-0 down it’s tough at any level, Reading managed the game really well and we got caught twice late on whilst we were pushing for that late goal.
“Our girls are a resilient bunch, it’s still possible (to stay up) but we’ve definitely made it harder – it’s Everest we’re climbing now.
“We are starting to cut out individual errors but the difference between WSL 1 and previous years is one mistake costs you a goal and we keep getting punished.”
The two FAWSL2 rivals from 2015 were both winless coming into the match but it was the away side who started strongly, Emma Follis tapping in at the back post.
Midfielder Samantha Tierney missed a chance to draw the Belles level before a well-worked Reading free-kick was brilliantly cleared off the line, only for Nia Jones to be in the right place at the right time to knock home the rebound.
Doncaster fought back after the break when Simpkins smashed home her first of the campaign within a minute of the restart to give the home side hope.
Coates’ side looked likelier to score the next goal and earn their first point of the season, but more Follis brilliance restored Reading’s two-goal advantage.
The midfielder broke forward into space before beating two Doncaster defenders and curling in a superb effort beyond Nicola Hobbs from outside the area.
An injury was to end Follis’ game 15 minutes from time, but her replacement Rachel Rowe sealed the game with a low finish with five minutes left on the clock.
Belles host Arsenal next on October 6.