Kirsty Hanson’s brace helped Doncaster Rovers Belles to victory over Durham despite a spirited second-half comeback attempt by the visitors.
After Hanson’s opener on four minutes, Sophie Bradley-Auckland went close to doubling the lead nine minutes later, seizing on a corner ball to put a first-time shot on target, but Durham skipper Sarah Wilson headed it off the line.
However, there was nothing Wilson could do to stop Bradley-Auckland moments later from another Belles set piece – a Sophie Walton cross from the left being turned in by the defender for her first Donny goal.
Former Belles winger Emily Roberts hit the post with a curler from the corner of the box as Durham looked to pull one back, before a Sam Tierney pass released FA WSL 2 top-scorer Jess Sigsworth only for Helen Alderson to make an exceptional save.
Tierney was again the provider with a chipped pass as Hanson slotted through Alderson’s legs for her second goal.
Zoe Ness pulled one back for Durham five minutes after the restart, glancing in a well-delivered corner at the near post.
Alderson pulled off another low save to again deny Sigsworth on 62 minutes, leaving the Belles looking slightly nervy even with their 3-1 lead.
But despite Durham changing to a more adventurous formation for the last 20 minutes and Ness missing a late sitter, Doncaster were able to hang on for the three points.
WHAT THEY SAID
Doncaster boss Neil Redfearn: “The most important thing is the three points at this point of the season. This could have been a potential banana skin for us.
“They’re a decent side, Durham, and I thought they played well in the second half – they played how they can play, they got it forward and made it difficult for us.
“But I thought first half we were streets ahead of them and three maybe flattered them a little bit – it maybe – could have been four or five.
“Kirsty’s (Hanson’s) finishing was top drawer and we’re pleased with her all-round game. We know that if we can get Kirsty on the ball in space then she’ll go past people, and she’s proved that again tonight.
“Bradders (Bradley-Auckland) has been outstanding all season and is part of a really solid core in the middle.”
Durham captain Sarah Wilson: “I feel like it was a different team that came out and played the second half, which is frustrating. We kind of sat off them a little bit too much for the first 20 minutes, which came back to bite us.
“We did have chances to get back in the game, which again was a little bit frustrating, but credit to Doncaster: they took their chances when they got them.
“If we’re getting in the right areas and creating the chances that’s a positive, so we’ve just got to make sure we take that into the next game.”
Coral Haines’ late penalty gave Tottenham Hotspur a 2-1 victory at Oxford United that moved them to within two points of fifth-placed London Bees in FA WSL 2.
After a slow opening, Tottenham’s Katie O’Leary gave the game the breakthrough it needed on the half-hour by firing a rebound into the roof of the net after Demi Lambourne had kept out Bianca Baptiste’s shot at the near post.
Oxford should have hit back straight away when their captain Ellis Hillman laid the ball off for makeshift striker Hannah Short, who shot wastefully wide after having time to pick her place.
Hannah McKenzie then tried to catch out Lambourne from 35 yards but the Oxford goalkeeper was alert in pushing the ball around the post.
Lambourne kept Oxford in the game again in the 67th minute when she did well to block Ryah Vyse’s header from point-blank range, following Jenna Schillaci’s free kick.
The hosts drew level in the 71st minute as Danielle Carlton’s cross-field pass picked out Ella Franklin-Fraiture on the right and her superb low cross was turned into the net by Short at the back post.
The match looked to be petering out into a draw, but Tottenham were awarded an 89th-minute penalty when Imogen Lancaster brought down Ashleigh Neville and Haines sent Lambourne the wrong way from the spot.
WHAT THEY SAID
Oxford United captain Danielle Carlton: “I thought we deserved all three points, if I’m honest – the first half not as much, but we did come out at them in the second half.
“We had a game plan that got put in front of us at half-time and I think we executed it quite well.
“It was a great goal that we equalised with, but it doesn’t mean anything, I’ve got to be brutally honest.
“Imogen [Lancaster] is young, she came on against Durham and scored and this game she’s come on and given away a penalty, so you’ve got to take the best with the worst.”
Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Coral Haines: “I think we worked really hard and it was unfortunate that we conceded, so I think we deserved to win it with the goal at the end.
“We’ve had a lot of penalty-takers this season and I don’t think any of us have scored straight from the penalty spot, so I felt like I needed to rectify my mistakes in the earlier season of not scoring.
“I missed before and I needed to work on it and I felt confident after working on it, so it paid off.”
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