Ladies First Team vs. Doncaster Rovers Belles (0 : 1)
FA Women's Cup
A controversial first half penalty scored by Doncaster's Courtney Sweetman-Kirk put the Belles in the hat for the Fifth Round of the SSE Women's FA Cup.
Sheffield FC Ladies' first ever competitive meeting with Doncaster Rovers Belles ended in 1-0 defeat for the hosts and exit from this year's SSE Women's FA Cup at the Fourth Round stage for the second year running.
The visitors started on the front foot and were the better team for the first 35 minutes of the match as Sheffield appeared sluggish compared to their full-time opponents.
After some wayward efforts on goal, Maz Pacheco was the first to test Jules Draycott as her header off a Sophie Barker floated delivery was comfortably saved by the Sheffield stopper.
Belles appealed for a goal on 12 minutes after a goal mouth scramble, but the whistle had sounded for a foul on a Sheffield player, and there was some doubt whether the ball had crossed the line at any rate.
Almost all the goal action was at the home end, but for two quick efforts from Ellie Gilliatt. The first, a low driven shot from 20 yards out looked like it might creep in at the far post beyond the diving Nicky Davies but drifted wide, before another decent effort from the full-back was hit over the bar.
On 26 minutes, Belles got their breakthrough, but thanks to a dubious decision from the referee who adjudged that that the ball had hit the arm of a Sheffield player, when many in the ground felt it was the other way, and Sweetman-Kirk rolled the ball in from the spot.
Sheffield's frustrations got the better of them in a five minute spell which saw some wayward challenges from the host, one which brought a yellow card for captain Carla Ward.
For the final ten minutes of the half, Sheffield got things back together, and Hannah Dale was a whisker away from levelling things up when she just couldn't get her toe on a Gilliatt low cross from the left to touch the ball passed the beaten Davies.
Belles then had a chance to double their lead when Sweetman-Kirk found herself with just Draycott to beat, but the Sheffield keeper pulled off a superb save to prevent the striker getting her second of the game.
The second half was a lot more positive for Sheffield with Dale forcing an early save from Davies, then Sophie Jones with a great chance to equalise was too casual and hit a lazy effort straight at Davies after a superb run by Hannah Cain.
A double substitution by the hosts on the hour saw the introduction of Rhema Lord-Mears and Lagan Makin, both instantly involved in Sheffield's improved form.
Chances came and went with Gilliatt hitting the side netting and Natasha Flint seeing a great effort blocked by Sam Tierney. The game became really stretched in the final ten minutes with Ward pulling out a superb last ditch tackle to deny Emily Simpkins.
A final corner saw Sheffield throw everyone forward, including Draycott, and as Belles cleared, Sweetman-Kirk broke to chase 60 yards before being halted by Lord-Mears.
So, Doncaster Rovers Belles advance to the Fifth Round where they have drawn Chelsea away. Sheffield focus on their opening Spring Series match v Millwall Lionesses away this coming Sunday.