Beth Mead thought Sunderland produced a vintage performance as they recorded their second FA Women’s Super League 1 victory of the season.
Despite falling behind to an early goal from Maz Pacheco, ex-Belles defender Tori Williams levelled before strikes from Abby Holmes, Kelly McDougall and Madelaine Hill sealed the points.
Mead said: “We showed glimpses of Sunderland from last year.
“We worked hard, we worked for each other and showed plenty of character to get the win.
“A lot of people have spoke about second season syndrome but that’s a game we’ve deserved for a long time and now we have to kick on and have a good end to the season.
“It’s nice to have that team back and hopefully we can take that to Notts County and win again.
“It was a great game for us, to go 1-0 down and come back and win shows great character from the team.
“It was a shaky start, we didn’t start well but we managed to get ourselves two quick goals before half-time and that put us right back in it.
“Everyone showed amazing effort and we need to push on with that and take it into the next game.”
Doncaster started well and were on the front foot for the first 20 minutes, rewarded for their efforts when Pacheco tapped home her first goal for the club after Williams headed a cross against her own post.
But individual errors came back to bite Belles. Nicola Hobbs had previously made an outstanding save from Mead but let Williams’ shot slide underneath her for the leveller after brilliant work by Mead.
Mead was once again the provider for Holmes to slam home an emphatic second before the visitors were awarded a penalty with just over 20 minutes to go. Hobbs redeemed herself by denying Mead but McDougall volleyed home the resulting corner.
There was time for a fourth when substitute Hill made an instant impact, emphatically smashing the ball beyond Hobbs after another assist from Mead.
Doncaster Rovers Belles boss Emma Coates said: “That was the story of our season, the results make it look like we’re not improving as a group but mistakes cost you at this level and we’re just making too many of them.
“The preparation throughout the week has been fantastic, the focus is there and the vibe in the changing room was great. We controlled the game for half an hour and I would never have said we’d lose 4-1 at that point.
“It shows how big mistakes are and how much they cost you but we have to keep working, we know we’ve got to start putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We’ve got Reading to play twice and we’ve still got games in hand, we have to refocus and get things right because that game is intensified even more now because of this result.”