Sunderland lose at home to Doncaster Belles

Abbey Joice scored for Sunderland

Abbey Joice scored for Sunderland

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Sunderland ended their Continental Cup campaign on a low note with a 3-2 home defeat to WSL2 outfit Doncaster Rovers.

It saw the Belles take third place in Group Two though it was not enough to take them through to the quarter-finals.

Sunderland finished fourth in the pool with two wins from five.

Emily Roberts put Rovers ahead in the 28th minute and while Abbey Joice equalised for Sunderland early in the second half, goals by Bethany England and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk gave the Belles victory.

Sarah McFadden headed in an injury time consolation.

Both sides went into the game knowing only a heavy win would probably give them any chance of progress.

Therefore, an attacking outlook was no great shock.

Sunderland wasted a glorious chance in the 14th minute when Rachel Furness played in Abby Holmes, only for the full-back to shoot straight at Nicola Hobbs.

Play switched straight to the other end where Hilde Olsen came out smartly to deny Sweetman-Kirk.

Carlton Fairweather’s side had plenty of pressure and attempts but Gemma Wilson headed wide from a Vicky Greenwell free-kick and Beth Mead had a shot saved by Hobbs.

But Doncaster remained a threat and took a 28th-minute lead. They broke superbly with Sweetman-Kirk’s cross from the right turned in by Emily Roberts.

Rovers were unlucky not to make it 2-0 in the 34th minute when Beth England finished emphatically after Olsen had saved from Sweetman-Kirk but an offside flag saved the hosts.

Sunderland had a golden opportunity to equalise eight minutes from the break when Beth Mead set up Steph Roche only for the Irish girl to shoot straight at Hobbs.

Roche looked to be through moments later but the attacking midfielder was outmuscled by the Belles defence.

Half-time:

Sunderland 0

Doncaster Rovers 1

The Lady Black Cats pulled level in the 47th minute, with JOICE shooting high into the net after a great run and pull-back by Mead.

It was the start of a good period from the home side with Mead making another fine run into the Rovers box but this time her pass to Chaplen was not a good one.

But Rovers remained a danger and Olsen saved well from a header by Sweetman-Kirk from Emily Roberts cross.

Sunderland came close to going ahead in the 62nd minute when Furness set up sub Keira Ramshaw but Hobbs made an excellent save with Leandra Little clearing the rebound.

However, Belles went up the other end and took the lead with a great finish by ENGLAND, her powerful shot beating Olsen to her right..

The hosts had appeals for a penalty rejected by referee Robert Anderson in the 68th minute when Mead went down under pressure from Little.

Mead forced a fine diving save from Hobbs and the WSL1’s leading scorer broke through seven minutes later but her shot was off-target.

Doncaster sealed the win 11 minutes from time. Olsen saved brilliantly from SWEETMAN-KIRK but the rebound fell to the Belles striker who shot into the empty home net.

Sunderland pulled a goal back in the fifth minute of injury time through McFADDEN’S header but it was too late for the hosts.