Doncaster Belles v Chelsea: Dowie targets opening day upset

Natasha Dowie
Natasha Dowie

Natasha Dowie hopes to be on the right end of an FAWSL1 opening day upset tonight.

The 27-year-old striker was in the Liverpool side humbled by top flight newcomers Sunderland in front of the television cameras this time last year - with the Lady Blacks going on to finish fourth.

This evening the boot is on the other foot for Dowie as she prepares to face double winners Chelsea live on BT Sport.

And she says the example of Sunderland can act as an inspiration to the Belles, who are back in the top flight for the first time since their controversial demotion in 2013.

“To beat the champions on TV in the first game of the season - similarly to what we’ve got against Chelsea - really kicked Sunderland’s season on in terms of the confidence they got from that,” said Dowie.

“It obviously helps to have a striker that’s banging in goals every week like Beth Mead did.

“But the season’s short so if you can get on a good run then anything’s possible.

“I think we can achieve good things,” she added.

“You only have to look at what Sunderland achieved with the squad they had.

“For me, I’m looking for us to be at the top end of the table.

“We’ve got a small squad so it’s a case of keeping everyone fit. But I definitely think we can shock a few people.”

Sunderland surpassed all expectations last term and Dowie says Belles may benefit, like the Wearsiders did, from a surprise factor.

“I don’t think teams will underestimate teams as much this season,” she said.

“You’d be silly too, especially after what Sunderland did last year.

“But I think because we’re a newly-promoted team a lot of people are talking about us fighting to stay in the league. So I think teams will naturally take their foot off the pedal a bit against us which can only work in our favour.

“We’re always going to be the underdogs, whatever team we play. For us, it’s a case of just relaxing and enjoying giving everything in games.

“We’re not going to go into any game thinking we can’t win it though. We don’t fear anyone.”