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Lincoln Ladies 0 Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 (Exley 45)
Doncaster Rovers Belles launched their FA WSL campaign with an impressive 1-0 victory away to local rivals Lincoln Ladies.
Vicky Exley scored the only goal of the game on the stroke of half time when she turned home Precious Hamilton's cross.
The Lady Imps dominated the second half but, despite several near misses, an equaliser failed to arrive, leaving them pointless from their first ever top flight match.
Doncaster deservedly led at the break after controlling the first half. After a quiet first half hour, the game burst into life when Exley's header was nodded off the line by Lincoln centre back Leandra Little.
The visitors went close again in the 38th minute when, after Becky Hall disposed Little, her cross was fired over the bar from close range by Hamilton.
Lincoln's best chance of the half arrived when a wonderful flick from Remi Allen was pounced on by Carla Cantrell, but her attempted lop over keeper Helen Alderson cleared the bar.
It proved be a crucial miss as Doncaster finally took the lead on the stroke of half time. Hamilton made up for her earlier miss by muscling her way into the box and setting up Exley, who drove the ball past Kay Hawke.
Lincoln piled on the pressure in the second half in search of an equaliser and England legend Sue Smith almost provided it when a superb long range effort struck the inside of the post with Alderson beaten. Skipper Megan Harris then headed inches wide as the hosts continued to press.
Substitute Sophie Walton was next to go close for Lincoln when her effort beat the onrushing Alderson before being hacked off the line. The clearance fell to Jess Clarke, but her fierce drive was also blocked by the Doncaster defence.
As time ran out, the visitors wasted a golden chance to make it 2-0 when Hamilton stabbed the ball wide from close range after Lincoln failed to clear a corner. Hamilton then forced a brilliant save from Hawke, but Exley's proved to be the winner.
Lincoln Ladies: Kay Hawke, Casey Stoney, Sophie Bradley, Leandra Little, Rachel Daly (sub Mel Sutcliffe 45mins), Megan Harris, Lucy Staniforth, Remi Allen (sub Sophie Walton 45mins), Jess Clarke, Carla Cantrell, Sue Smith. Subs not used: Stacey Aisthorpe, Bonnie Horwood, Nicola Hobbs.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Helen Alderson; Lyndsey Cunningham, Maria Karlsson, Tori Williams, Kylla Sjoman, Katie Holtham, Kasia Lipka, Vicky Exley, Becky Hall (sub Millie Bright 82), Precious Hamilton, Aine O'Gorman. Subs not used: Shelly Cox, Amy Turner, Mary Earps, Sarah Owen.
(Report by Declan Turner/The FA.com - Photos: Mike Gaffney - MikeGaffneyPhotography.co.uk Tel: 0751 466 2940)
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