Doncaster Belles: End of an era as Belles bow out

Beth England. Photo: Paul Thomas
Beth England. Photo: Paul Thomas

This weekend marks the end of an era for Doncaster Rovers Belles, writes Hayley Paterson.

Sunday (2pm, Keepmoat) will be the club’s last game in the top flight following their controversial ‘relegation’ as part of the FA’s restructuring of the women’s game.

Belles have played in the top division for the last 22 years.

The only ever-presents of the top tier will play in the newly-formed FA WSL2 next season, with Premier League side Manchester City Ladies taking their place in the top division.

John Buckley’s Belles have endured a campaign unlike any other in the FAWSL this season, suffering the devastation of being demoted after just 90 minutes of league action.

Despite the FA’s decision, which received global criticism, the Belles have continued to battle on the field with the sole aim of letting their football do the talking.

However, they find themselves rooted to the bottom of the FAWSL, but just a point adrift of Lincoln Ladies - who will be rebranded as Notts County in next year’s WSL1.

They can still avoid finishing bottom of the table by beating Birmingham City Ladies in their final FAWSL fixture top flight.

A win could see Belles leapfrog Lincoln, who travel to Chelsea.

Buckley’s outfit will be keen to erase their recent 4-3 defeat to Bristol Academy, after going into a 3-0 lead at half time.

With the welcomed return of Beth England from injury and a near fully-fit squad, Buckley has plenty in his locker to get the three points.