Manager John Buckley could not fault his Doncaster Rovers Belles players despite a 3-1 Continental Cup defeat to Everton last night.
Belles went ahead through a smart Beth England strike but were stunned with an instant response from a sublime Nikita Parris goal.
Despite further chances falling to Belles youngsters England, Jess Sigsworth and Ashleigh Mills as well as the Doncaster club seeing two efforts scrape the bar, the Toffees showed their clinical edge as they made it 3-1 with goals from Vicky Jones and an injury time Toni Duggan penalty.
Despite the result, which sees high-flying Everton into the semi-final of the Continental Cup, Buckley was proud of his side’s performance.
“I was disappointed with the scoreline but not at all with their commitment and efforts, I thought we were the better team,” the Scotsman told the Free Press.
“I think at one stage we could’ve gone 4-1 up if we had just taken our chances. Hopefully that will come.”
The game at the Keepmoat Stadium, which had a crowd of 301, also saw Sue Smith playing her first competitive game for the Belles since her horror injury 15 months ago.
“I thought Sue Smith was very tidy on the ball, she had some great touches and gave us that little bit extra,” said Buckley, who celebrated his 51st birthday yesterday.
“It’s down to match fitness with Sue but that will come as well. The important thing is that she got through the game without injury and she’s back on the pitch where she belongs.”
Buckley paid special tributes to a host of players including goalscorer England and Balby Academy youngster Ashleigh Mills.
Belles, who have been demoted next season by the FA following an application process for their restructured two-tier league, saw supporters hold a protest on Saturday morning against the decision.
The protest took place next to the FA Cup trophy which was on display in the Frenchgate Centre promoting the May 26 final at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Fans also made their thoughts known at the game against Everton with Buckley labelling their support as “different gravy”.
See this week’s Free Press for more on the Belles.
Send in your thoughts on the FA decision to: firstname.lastname@example.org