Two goals from FA WSL2 top scorer Jess Sigsworth helped league leaders Doncaster Rovers Belles to fight back from falling behind to an early London Bees penalty.
Katie Wilkinson put the Bees ahead, but Sigsworth’s double plus a third from Kirsty Hanson secured the win for the hosts.
Victory moves Doncaster nine points ahead of second-placed Millwall, who have two games in hand ahead of their trip to Watford on Sunday.
The Bees went ahead after a slip from Belles defender Sophie Bradley-Auckland allowed Destiney Toussaint a clear run on goal.
Belles captain Leandra Little charged back to try and cover, but her covering tackle brought down at the crucial moment for a clear foul, and Bees striker Katie Wilkinson stepped up to convert.
In-form Belles winger Kirsty Hanson went close to an equaliser on 16 minutes, but shot narrowly over the bar.
Just two minutes later the hosts were awarded a penalty of their own, with Rosie Lane bringing down Bradley-Auckland just inside the box and Sigsworth obliged from 12 yards.
That left the side level at the break, though Sam Tierney rattled the bar with a fierce 25-yarder that was the last kick of the first half.
Having fallen behind five minutes into the first half, Doncaster went ahead four minutes into the second as Sigsworth found the net again.
Sigsworth was again involved as Donny made it 3-1, cutting inside and forcing a good low save from Hobbs that fell at the feet of Hanson, who tapped the ball home.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
For Doncaster’s second, Little got up to head Maz Pacheco’s well-delivered corner towards goal, and Sigsworth nipped in to divert the ball past the goalkeeper from close range to make it 2-1.
WHAT THEY SAID
Belles captain Leandra Little said: “To go behind in such a short space of time was disappointing for us, but I think we showed character and determination to get ourselves back level and grind out a result.
“I don’t think you’re going to get a game where none of our front three are performing. If one of them is having a quiet game, then somebody else will chip in. It’s good to see a bit of healthy competition with them up there trying to claim the golden boot.
“London Bees have really, really improved since we played them towards the beginning of the season, and that’s all credit to them: they made it difficult for us.
“But we showed our quality and it may not be pretty at times, but at other times it is. That just shows a good side that’s able to win when it’s not necessarily going our way. That’s put us in a good position to go on and try to win the rest of our games.”
Bees head coach Luke Swindlehurst said: “They’re top of the league for a reason with a very good team and some really good players, but I was pleased with the way we started the game.
“It was a great start. Obviously we went one-nil up and I’m just a bit disappointed that we gave them a penalty so quick to let them back into the game.
“We could have scored on the break but Destiney [Toussaint] was brought down and Katie [Wilkinson] was nice and brave and stepped up with a comfortable finish.
“I don’t think Nicola Hobbs has had too much to do in the goal. I can’t think of too many chances where Doncaster were clean through, so I thought the overall team shape was good.
“I thought it was a good game of football to watch for the neutral. There’s a lot of positive signs from London Bees at the moment.”
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