Gordon Staniforth is refusing to hand the league title over to Sunderland just yet but admits his side have given their FAWSL2 rivals the momentum.
Fran Kirby’s triple blow for Reading on Sunday saw the Belles slump to a crushing 4-0 defeat, as league leaders Sunderland stretched the gap at the top to five points following victory over Aston Villa.
And as the Lady Black Cats continue to reign undefeated, Staniforth admits it will be tough to challenge for FAWSL2 glory now.
However, he wants Doncaster to win every single one of their remaining seven games to give them the best chance.
“We’re not conceding the title, we’ll never do that but we have made it difficult for ourselves,” said Staniforth.
“We’ve 21 points to play for and I want us to get every single last point to keep the pressure on, that’s all we can do now.
“It’s out of our hands but it wasn’t our performance against Reading that did that, in my eyes. It’s the draws against Millwall and Durham which have really set us back.
“We had so many chances in those games and didn’t convert so those 0-0 draws and dropped points have proved costly for us in the end. But there’s still a long way to go, there will be twists and turns.
“Sunderland are a superb team. At the end of the season, the club that goes up will be the one that has performed the best throughout the season.
“If we’re not in that top spot, we have to go for second place which is still a fantastic finish.
“The improvements we’ve made from when I came in as manager to now have been fantastic. I’ve been delighted with the progress.
“There’s a really good buzz about the place too, we have a good team spirit and a solid base to work from.
“What we’ve got to do now is go into the game against Aston Villa [tonight], not feel sorry for ourselves and get a win.
“Then a couple of days later we have Watford [away on Sunday] so there’s plenty of opportunities to move on from Reading.”
Staniforth waxed lyrical about the impact hat trick hero Kirby made as the England striker demolished the Belles at the weekend.
The Doncaster chief admitted his side could not cope with the clinical edge Kirby, who also turned provider for the Royals’ fourth, possessed on Saturday.
“Fran was superb. She was the difference on the day and from four chances, she scored three goals. We just couldn’t stop her. She’s in a rich vein of form and ultimately made us pay,” he added.
“But we’ve got to put things right and react against Villa tonight.”