Doncaster Rovers Belles boss Gordon Staniforth admits a spectacular second-half showing against Aston Villa was the perfect response to their critics.
Six goals from five different scorers gave the Belles a much-needed victory after last Saturday’s 4-0 mauling from Reading.
The result, which was in doubt when the sides went in 1-1 at the break, keeps Doncaster five points behind FA Women’s Super League 2 leaders Sunderland with six games to go.
“That was a tremendous second half,” said Staniforth.
“I thought we didn’t do bad first half but in the second half we absolutely murdered them.
“We opened the scoring very well but Aston Villa equalised through a bit of sloppiness at the corner, and I said at half-time ‘we have to step up the game, we’re in a real game here’, and to be honest they responded.
“We said at Reading that this game couldn’t come quickly enough and we’ve proved the critics wrong - we are a good team.”
Millie Bright’s curling free-kick gave Donny a ninth-minute advantage but Katie Wilkinson equalised for Villa 17 minutes later, tapping in at the far post after Alicia Robinson’s corner cleared Bright’s airspace.
Natalie Courtney got a crucial fingertip to Bright’s fierce high drive on 34 minutes, and the duel between the two continued after the break, with Bright showing great awareness to receive Bethany England’s pass and score on the turn.
Sue Smith didn’t manage to find the net with an incredible 45-yard shot that bounced off the bar, but she won’t have scored any easier goals than Donny’s third, tapping in from all of a yard from England’s simple pass on 68 minutes.
With that Villa’s defence crumbled, and three more goals followed in similar fashion as Jess Sigworth, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and finally England all went clean through to score.
And Villa manager Ron Mellor says they were made to pay for some sloppy errors.
“We had moments of success in the first half and perhaps were rather fortunate to come in at 1-1 at half time,” he said.
“But we’re near the Doncaster racecourse, and the expression ‘we weren’t at the races,’ is particularly apt for the second half.
“We had a catalogue of errors: misplaced passes, poor marking, and some naive football really from the girls who, although they played on Saturday, so did Doncaster.
“We have no excuses and were overwhelmed in the second half, particularly towards the end, and we ended up chasing shadows.”