A final day 4-0 home win was not enough to earn Doncaster Rovers Belles the FA WSL 2 title – but there were celebrations at the final whistle nonetheless as goals from Bethany England, Sue Smith 2, and Hope Knight saw off Millwall Lionesses.
Reading led the title charge going into the game, level on points but with an advantage of seven on goal difference, meaning the already-promoted Belles were realistically dependent on Aston Villa holding the Royals.
England’s header on the 41st minute briefly put Doncaster top of the league, but two minutes later news came through that Reading had also taken the lead.
The Belles responded by doubling their lead through Smith after Dionne Lennon blocked England’s initial effort on 68 minutes.
Former England winger Smith made it 3-0 six minutes later, getting onto a good through ball and dinking over Sarah Quantrill to score.
The Lionesses temporarily staved off Donny’s attempts at a fourth, with top scorer Courtney Sweetman-Kirk unable to convert after Quantrill saved well from England.
But there was no stopping substitute Knight as the siege on Quantrill’s goal continued nine minutes from time, with the winger bundling home at the far post.
Doncaster Rovers Belles (4-3-3): Nicola Hobbs; Lyndsey Cunningham, Rhiannon Roberts, Leandra Little, Sophie Barker; Sue Smith, Kasia Lipka, Emily Simpkins; Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, Bethany England, Emily Roberts
Substitutes: Hope Knight for E Roberts 46, Ashleigh Mills for Simpkins 63, Nicole Dale for Cunningham 88
Substitutes not used: Nicole Dale, Sam Tierney, Lauren Cresswell, Molly Johnson, Sophie Stamp
Millwall Lionesses (4-4-1-1): Sarah Quantrill; Leanne Cowan, Dionne Lennon, Danielle Carlton, Frankie Strugnell; Megan Goss, Lily Maple, Grace Fisk, Bethany Hartford; Fliss Gibbons; Rinsola Babajide
Substitutes: Ciara Sherwood for Hartford 69, Fran Ali for Maple 72, Anna Williams for Goss 83
Substitutes not used:, Jordan Butler
Bookings: Fran Ali 87
Referee: Amy Fearn