Match Report – Peterborough United Women v Doncaster Rovers Belles

Sunday 27th March

FAWNL Midlands Division One

A return to the league this Sunday with a trip west along the A47 to watch a game from FAWNL Midlands Division One. Peterborough United Women promoted to the FAWNL for the 1st time this season taking on 2nd placed Doncaster Rovers Belles.

 A league not normally covered by Women’s Football East, Peterborough itself is with a number of clubs featuring across the various leagues. Is a hot bed for footballing talent with Peterborough United Women currently the leading club in the area.

Enjoying strong links with the men’s club playing in the EFL Championship. Peterborough United Women were pushing hard for promotion from the East Midlands Regional Premier Division only to be denied through the Covid pandemic bringing 2 seasons to an early finish, were awarded promotion this season as the FA expanded the sides above across the women’s football pyramid. A win on the opening day followed by successive draws proceeding a run of 5 straight defeats on the league seeing the club in trouble with 4 sides likely to be relegated reduced to 3 with withdrawal of Holwell Sports.

A change of management seeing Dan Lawlor taking on the 1st team. Results in 2022 much improved with the club turning a corner 3 straight wins pulling The Posh Women as they are also know away from the bottom 3. Are unbeaten at home so far in 2022 up to 7th in the table 9 points clear of the drop zone and with 5 games to go will be aiming to consolidate a midtable finish. Captain, Keir Perkins the leading goal scorer with 17 overall from 22 appearances whilst Jess Driscoll has 11 from 21 games.

Have fond memories of watching Doncaster Rovers Belles in my days supporting fellow WSL founding side Lincoln Ladies. Unfortunately both clubs were dealt some heavy blows as the top flight of women’s football tried to find it’s feet in those early years. A club with a long and rich history in the game the financial pressure saw the club lose it’s place in the what was WSL 2 then re-joining the FAWNL. Dropping down to tier 4 as the rebuilding process began, the Covid pandemic has hampered a quick return.

Lay 2nd in the Midlands Division One table with just 3 defeats from 18 played so far 9 points behind leaders Boldmere St Michaels who look strong to clinch the title. With 2 games in hands however Doncaster Rovers Belles can apply pressure in the run in while making sure they don’t get caught, by the new version of Lincoln City Women who are hot on their heels in 3rd. Jasmine Saxton their top scorer netting 18 goals overall so far from 23 appearances.

The idverde Training Ground the venue for today’s match the academy ground, boasting one all weather pitch with two grass pitches beyond. A small covered seated stand for spectators on one side. A decent size the clocks going forward this weekend, the weather pleasant all week staying great for this afternoon’s game some cloud around, but warm and bright with no chance of rain. 

Peterborough United Women

Peterborough United Women starting XI – Amy Butler, Kayleigh Aylmer, Niamh Connor, Natalie Hurst, Evie Driscoll-King, Cassie Steward, Elloise Copson, Jess Driscoll, Beatrix Borque,  Katie Steward & Kier Perkins (C). Subs – Sophie Powell, Hannah Hipwell, Katie Lowder & Destiny Makenjuola.

Doncaster Rovers Belles

Doncaster Rovers Belles starting XI – Eleanor Sharpe, Jessica Andrew (C), Isabella Trevillion, Holly Housley, Charlotte Dinsdale, Sophie Scargill, Lauren Breen, Sophie Bell, Lindsey Tugby, Nadia Khan & Jasmine Saxton. Subs – Hannah McWilliams, Emily Cahill, Freya Rattenbury, Phoebe Sneddon & Jessica Price.

Peterborough’s Reserve side playing at the same time on one of the grass pitches beside the 3G taking on Coalville Town Women in the EMWRFL Division One South. Both games pausing for a minutes silence, on Mother’s Day in remembrance of all those who have lost their mother’s.

It’s Peterborough to get this afternoon’s game underway wearing  blue shirts with white sleeves, white shorts and blue socks. Doncaster lined up opposite wearing an all red kit with white horizontal piping. Played back into midfield passed out to right back Kayleigh Aylmer looks to get it up the wing charged down play spread to the left Beatrix Borque able to travel with the ball for Peterborough sends the ball on for striker and captain Kiers Perkins to hunt down, Charlotte Dinsdale getting across her seeing the ball back to her goalkeeper Eleanor Sharpe.

  Perkins nipping in to pressure the ball in the left corner as it is put on from a throw in winning Peterborough an early corner. The inswinging delivery headed clear by Doncaster at the near post. Peterborough quick to regain possession put back to corner taker Katie Steward coming back up the line on the left sends a dangerous ball into the six yard box Evie Driscoll-King stooping to head the ball down towards goal, Sharpe with a reflex save throw herself down to her left to keep it out, superb goalkeeper. An early chance of Peterborough to open the scoring.

Eleanor Sharpe with a superb save for Doncaster Rovers Belles early in the game

Doncaster snapping after the ball in the middle Sophie Scargill recently returning to the side after suffering an ACL injury putting it on for Lauren Breen clipped diagonally out to the right with Nadia Khan finding space in the right channel takes on the early strike cutting the angled shot high and wide of the near post. Tugby winning the ball in midfield she drives forwards  sending it out to Khan away on the right wing squares an inviting ball across Peterborough’s six yard box, cut out by the defence at the far post and cleared. A lively opening pace in attack from both sides.

Nadia Khan controlling the ball for Doncaster Rovers Belles

  The attackers looking to take the game on to their opponents Jess Driscoll on for Perkins she lifts it on for Katie Steward through the middle, Sharpe needs to come win the ball outside her box, just about gets their as she and Steward collide The loose ball regained by Peterborough wide left an attempt to find the empty net made the ball bouncing harmlessly wide of the near post Katie Steward down for a moment recently back herself after dislocating her thumb. Is okay to continue. 

Peterborough attacker, Katie Steward looking to get the better of Doncaster’s Charlotte Dinsdale

  Seen Amy Butler at two different clubs already this season, outfield and in goal. No 1 of Peterborough, needs to come racing out of her box to clear as Khan threatens to break into the box from the left. Cassie Steward busy in the middle for Peterborough in to tackle the ball played out to Borque on the left, looks to get on, Doncaster’s Isabella Trevillion in to challenge her the ball out for a throw. Pressure from Perkins on the throw bringing another corner.

Doncaster’s Isabella Trevillion

  Even start both sides pressing the ball well wanting to get it forwards with pace. Cassie Steward playing the ball on for Perkins in attack sends it out to the right with the full back coming on the cross sent in Perkins goes to head it’s Charlotte Dinsdale who wins it to head the ball on picked up by Tugby, Doncaster counter attack through the middle, Tugby racing on with the ball, on for Jasmine Saxton outside the D passes to Sophie Bell on the right wing held up gets it back to Tugby to as Peterborough get back in numbers to defend their box, right side Tugby puts it into Saxton’s find inside the area, looks to shift left and turn into the shot, Cassie Steward back to put in the blocking tackle.

Doncaster’s Lindsey Tugby challenging Peterborough’s Jess Driscoll

  Driscoll coming away clear with the ball at her feet through the middle for Peterborough has Katie Steward providing a run into the left channel, sends the pass into her feet looks clear to bear down on goal sends her shot wide of the post. A lively opening 10 minutes. Peterborough attack right Cassie Stewards up with Perkins and sister Katie. Doncaster captain, Jessica Andrew tackling the attack breaking down outside the box as Dinsdale clears it long looking for Khan. Breen and Tugby both looking to travel with the ball whenever Doncaster mount an attack the latter getting her shirt tugged by Driscoll winning a free-kick 30 yards out. 

Charlotte Dinsdale winning the ball at the back for Doncaster

The set-piece defended Peterborough are quickly on the attack play going right Cassie Steward with Aylmer up on the right, crossed in early no one gambling through the middle Sharpe can take the catch unopposed. Scargill on for Breen drives forwards out to the left plays the ball inside to Saxton inside the D, nods it down to the right, for a moment Bell on that side has an opening if she can reach the ball to charge into the box and take a shot, Borque though recovering well for Peterborough just gets their first to clear the ball. Breen finding gaps to run into with the ball sends it on for Khan running into the left corner, checks back up the pick before being brought down for the free-kick. Tugby over it curls a shot on the angle in towards goal, Butler with an easy claim. 

Doncaster midfielder, Sophie Scargill

  Butler starts to come to try and win the ball before Saxton as she is put through by Khan on the left, can’t get there is stranded as Saxton spots Bell available on the right, goes for it 20 yards out her first time effort curled over the bar. Katie Steward and Perkins work the ball well on the left side getting it squared central with Cassie Steward racing on from midfield, connects first time cutting her shot high away from goal. Peterborough giving it a go Driscoll tackling on for Perkins lays the ball to the right for Katie Steward her angled cross falling near post collected by Sharpe.

Kayleigh Aylmer

  Aylmer getting on with the ball right inside for Cassie Steward, plays it into Katie Steward outside the box she looks to find Perkins inside the D, Andrew and Dinsdale into challenge getting the ball clear to their left, Aylmer latching onto it a high ball clipped into the box, taken high by Sharpe. Breen gets on the move down the right side a powerful run as Bell sends the pass on for her looks to travel all the way to the by-line whip a cross in across the face of goal, Niamh Connor closing down tackling to see that doesn’t happen.

Peterborough’s Niamh Connor

  From the resulting throw in the ball in lifted into Trevillion 20 yards out right of the D, puts her foot through the strike, is charged down by Peterborough centre back, Natalie Hurst. Khan taking the ball on down the right, combines with Saxton the pair exchanging passes finding their way into the box wide of goal, Butler comes to smother the ball at Saxton’s feet. Khan looking dangerous running into the channels plays it infield for Breen outside the D, she is brought down, Doncaster with a set-piece in a dangerous position. Breen to take it goes for goal her shot curling wide of the far post.

Nadia Khan

  Midway through the 1st half has been a lively game so far. Doncaster mount an attack Breen on for Tugby sending it out to Khan free on the right, wraps her foot around the cross sending an inviting ball into the six yard box, headed clear by Driscoll-King. The visitors looking to pressure the ball higher get caught on the counter Driscoll taking it on through the middle threading it on for Perkins right of the D, Andrew getting across well to shield the ball as Sharpe comes to gather at her feet. 

One captain holding off the other, Kier Perkins with Jessica Andrew

  Aylmer right on Katie Steward down the line her cross angled in near side, Perkins the target, Sharpe snatching down first. Breen passing into Khan on the right Bell up with her in the corner, a cross working in dropping inside the six yard box, Butler claims well under pressure from Saxton. Peterborough with players up for a throw on the left, Driscoll is tackled the ball loose Trevillion playing it on for Saxton the visitors break the striker, picking out Khan making a right channel run shifting inside, Elloise Copson across with a well timed tackle get the ball Doncaster first to the loose ball 25 yards out the long range lob dropping wide of the far post.

  Borque takes the ball on down the left after good work from Cassie Steward to regain possession in the middle. Borque playing a diagonal ball into the area, Perkins going forward marked by Dinsdale who tackles the ball out to the left collected by Borque floated back in on the angle claimed safely by Sharpe. Housley getting forwards on the left for Doncaster checking back before being tackled by Aylmer the ball coming to Breen 25 yards out pulls her 25 yard  strike wide across goal. 

 Into the final 5 minutes of the first half, Driscoll battling for possession in the centre finding Borque on the left wing, Bell getting back at her challenging for Doncaster. Scargill with Breen work the ball on well through the middle before Driscoll-King intercepts the forward pass for Peterborough, Tugby on with the ball for Doncaster passes to Khan outside the area right of the D, shifts inside to shoot taking a deflection off an attempted block the ball skips up over Butler landing on top of her crossbar out for a corner kick.

Peterborough’s Cassie Steward

 Dinsdale winning the ball at the ball plays it forwards into Scargill through the middle plays it to the right for Saxton moving into the corner plays it up the line for Bell to lift a curling cross into the area, headed away by Hurst. One last attack for Peterborough with Cassie Steward winning the ball in the middle on for Katie Steward who looks to play it on for Perkins the through ball running behind her as she looks to go across to the right.  

Half-time Peterborough United Women 0-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

  An entertaining first half draws to a close with the sides goalless at the break. Has been a lively game Peterborough taking the game to Doncaster both sides looking to get on with the ball quickly, defences standing firm. Peterborough with a great opportunity to open the scoring inside the opening 2 minutes but for a smart save from Doncaster keeper, Eleanor Sharpe. Players on both sides with driving runs through the middle, defences dropping deep at times to limit opportunities inside the area. An intriguing contest will be interesting to see if both sides can keep it up 2nd half. 

Sophie Scargill with Cassie Steward

  A change for Doncaster at the break Emily Cahill on for Housley. No changes for Peterborough. Doncaster to get the 2nd half underway. The ball played long out to Khan racing on right side, Connor though can see it out for a goal kick. Scargill regaining possession in the middle finds Saxton on the right has Tugby up with her the pair looking to exchange passes on the wing come inside Hurst challenging the loose ball lifted back over the top finding Tugby offside. 

Driscoll continues to snap into the tackles winning possession in the middle for Peterborough sends the ball out to Aylmer on the right, drills a pass into Perkins inside the box, holds it up but can’t pick out a teammate as she is closed down by Dinsdale and Andrew. Doncaster are looking to take the game to Peterborough at the start of the 2nd half, Saxton with Tugby linking on the left, Hurst getting amongst them to tackle, Tugby on the loose ball attempting to lay it into Khan positioned inside the D, Driscoll-King winning it. 

Breen taking attack to Peterborough looks to batter her way through into the box, Hurst defending well up against her. Cassie Steward central winning the ball for Peterborough lays it forwards for Perkins, too much on it though as Sharpe comes running out of her area to kick upfield. Driscoll on the ball with a great pass to find Borque clear on the left, Bell though recovers well for Doncaster to get back at her and tackle a throw for the hosts in the corner  

 Perkins doing well to win a corner on the right as Copson plays the ball down the line. Peterborough regaining some momentum with a free-kick on the left put into the box Dinsdale up with the defensive header deflected behind for a corner. An infringement spotted by the referee in the six yard box seeing Doncaster regain possession. Tempers flaring up as Tugby and Driscoll clash the referee having words with the pair. A free-kick wide right for Peterborough, Aylmer delivering it long to the back stick knocked back in across goal, Sharpe grabbing it, with Driscoll-King flying in.

Doncaster striker, Jasmine Saxton

  A change for Peterborough with almost an hour played Katie Steward coming off for Hannah Hipwell who goes into midfield with Cassie Steward moving up top join Perkins in attack. The new strike force looking to combine on the right, Breen getting back to win the ball, takes it on down the left flanks coming inside is brought down somewhat clumsily by Driscoll winning a free-kick. Driscoll lucky not to pick up a yellow card. Andrew to play the set-piece up into the box cleared away from a throw on the right. 

Bell winning Doncaster a corner on the right, a great delivery into the six yard box dropping central Dinsdale connects her shot smashing back off the post then put behind for a corner on the left. Played long beyond the far post cleared out to the top of the area Andrew retrieves no space to shoot plays it to Bell inside the box right side blasts a shot goalwards her effort blocked. Doncaster pressing the advantage coming left the cross angled in cut out by Driscoll-King sliding in at the near post. The visitors pushing hard on the right the cross over everyone in the middle, Breen reclaims it beyond the far post turns back towards goal lifting her shot over the bar.

  Hipwell carrying the ball on through the middle finding Cassie Steward on the right, comes back inside before lifting a cross into the far post with the outside of her boot, Borque flying in can’t get a touch as the ball runs wide of the far post. Peterborough with a corner goes long to Hurst at the far post nods it back into the centre met by Perkins, is narrowly over the crossbar. Chances for both sides with no let up in the tempo. Steward on the right from a throw swivels to put a cross into the centre of the six yard box, too close to the keeper with Sharpe taking it as Perkins makes the run.

Peterborough’s Jess Driscoll

  Final balls not always finding their mark but this is more to good reading of the ball from both defences more than anything else. Bell winning Doncaster a corner on the right before it is taken however a change with a little over quarter an hour left, Khan coming off for Hannah McWilliams. Peterborough with a change too Borque off replaced by Katie Lowder. The corner swung in centrally, Andrew up well to meet it, her header directed wide of the far post.

   Breen has been upended several times during the match, Steward the latest to do so, earning herself a yellow card. The set-piece wide on the left lifted in towards the penalty spot put behind for a corner kick. The corner going through everyone attacking the far post. Doncaster with a 3rd change Scargill off for Jessica Price with 11 minutes left to play.  Steward with Perkins up on the left after the ball, Perkins back to Steward who shifts the ball between her feet before shooting on the angle her attempt wide across goal. 

 Both sides showing signs of nerves at the back as much as they want to score neither wants to concede so late in the game. Hurst is pulled back a free-kick wide right for Peterborough, Aylmer playing it into Steward inside the D lays it off of Driscoll is closed down quickly no room for a shot. Peterborough make a 3rd change Destiny Makenjuola on for Hurst. Lowder winning a poor kick out from the back goes forwards doesn’t get a clean strike away the ball running safely through to the keeper. 

Doncaster’s Jessica Price

 Connor with a great defending tackle inside the box on Saxton right of goal as the ball in clipped into her from Breen on the left. Price on the turn 25 yards out central to shoot as she gets hold of the loose ball, Butler coming across her goal can see it bounce wide of her left post. Driscoll-King turning the ball behind for a corner on the right as Doncaster get forwards with Bell and Saxton. Put into the middle isn’t cleared, a scramble seeing it hooked clear. Advantage played as Driscoll charging through the middle is tugged back. The ball running on for Perkins holds it up well picking out Steward to the right of the D, her shot charged down.

   Driscoll with another free-kick won 30 yards out, struck towards goal, strikes a Doncaster arm the referee with a better view of it awarding the hosts a free kick just outside the D to the right of centre. Lowder over  in the 88th minute curling a shot past the wall, Sharpe diving to her right can’t get there the shot cannoning back off the upright, then behind for a goalkick as a blue and white shirt flies in.

Kate Lowder’s late free-kick striking the post

 So close for Peterborough at the death, the hosts come on again Driscoll on for Hipwell picks out Steward right of the D, inside to angle a ball across to the far post, Perkins diving on can’t quite reach in goal kick. Into stoppage time a frantic final minute neither side giving an inch as the final whistle blows to see the points shared.

Full time Peterborough United Women 0-0 Doncaster Rovers Belles

 A hard fought point for Peterborough in the finish, frustrating Doncaster in an evenly fought contest. Defences on top for the most part a good opportunity at either end of the match for the hosts to score a goal. Both sides striking the woodwork. The later the game wore on nerves played a part. Peterborough as keen to keep the clean sheet than they were to score. Doncaster pushed forwards just couldn’t find a way through. As a neutral it was a great game to watch despite it being 0-0 and I don’t see too many of those.

Women’s Football East – Player of the Match

  Onto this afternoon’s Women’s Football East – Player of the Match. It’s another tough one ultimately to pick out an individual player but I have my notes to help me out. Defences were solid and worked hard throughout for both sides. For Doncaster, Nadia Khan posed a threat on the flanks going forwards. Lindsey Tugby through the middle with so dynamic runs. Lauren Breen got clattered several times for her efforts but such was the threat she posed to the opposition with some strong runs forwards. For Peterborough Beatrix Borque carried a threat in the wide areas and it is neck and neck between the other two Cassie Steward battling for the ball well in the middle getting forwards then joining the attack 2nd half creating chances both for herself and others. Just edging it though is Jess Driscoll was strong on the ball in the centre winning possession back and taking the game to Doncaster.

An entertaining trip to Peterborough (once I got there) Been looking to get over see a game for a while and it’s always great to catch up with Doncaster Rovers Belles. My thanks to both clubs for assisting me with the team details, much appreciated.

by Darren Gilham