Whilst Rovers have progressed gradually upwards over the course of the last decade many folk often forget that the town already has a top flight football team of its own, and has done for a long time. The Doncaster Rovers Belles begin their season this Sunday as they host Blackburn Rovers in the FA Womens Premier League. Long established in the women’s game the Belles have twice been Premier League champions and six time FA Cup winners, not to mention countless other honours and final appearances.
Despite beginning last season in much financial difficulty the Belles rallied on the pitch to reach the final of the Premier League Cup and not to mention notch their sixth Sheffield County Cup triumph in seven years. Perhaps more impressive was their upturn in league form as the Belles secured fourth place in the Premier League table behind the notable trio of Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton, however manager John Buckley has already set his sights one higher for the coming season.
Speaking to the Doncaster Free Press Buckley said: “The mood is very good at the club despite the financial issues – we’ve just got to keep pushing forward and we want to try and finish higher than fourth this year. Pre-season has gone really well; we’re looking forward to the new season and we’re definitely ready for it,”
The Belles have strengthened their squad over the summer months with one notable addition being England under 17 international Kasia Lipka from Sheffield United. Lipka is just one of seven new players to join the club over the summer with Paige Unwin, Millie Bright, Paulette Spencer, Drew Phillips, Emma Greenwood and Lucy Turner also recruited ahead of the Belles push for the top three.
With prolific forward Liz Hansen not due to return from her native Canada until later this month there is much competition for places and many of the new faces could find themselves included in Buckley’s squad for Sunday.
The Belles face Blackburn at the Keepmoat Athletics Arena, kicking off at 2pm on Sunday.
The expected Belles squad for Sunday: Nicola Hobbs, Chelsea Weston, Vanessa Leat, Rachel Williams, Claire Utley, Natasha Staniland, Emily Simpkins, Vicky Exley, Suzanne Davies, Sarah Owen, Presh Hamilton, Kasia Lipka, Emma Johnson, Tori Williams, Naomi Chadwick and Paige Eli