Rovers Ladies secured third place in the Women’s Premier League following a dramatic final day draw away to Huddersfield.
Gemma Donnelly’s side twice held a two-goal lead, but ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils in the entertaining eight-goal thriller.
Chances came and went at either end in the early exchanges, before Rovers opened the scoring on 19 minutes. Georgia Stanway made a driving run down the wing, before supplying a great cross along the six-yard box and Jess Holbrook tapped home.
Stanway then doubled Rovers’ lead five minutes later. After blocking the defender’s clearance, the striker shifted the ball onto her left foot, before firing home.
The 16-year-old came close to adding a third, before Huddersfield pulled one back on the 30-minute mark when Emily Heckler’s shot from the edge of the area was spilled into the net by Jo Hutcheson.
And it was all-square on the stroke of half-time, as a Rovers corner was cleared and Huddersfield’s Debbie Hastings scored on the break.
Rovers made a strong start to the second half, as Emily Bradshaw was denied in a one-on-one, Danielle Sheen struck the post and Stanway fired just wide.
Hutcheson then made a smart save, before Amie Fleming fired over, Sheen saw a shot cleared off the line and Megan Taylor blazed over the bar.
On 70 minutes, Rovers finally got the third goal their display deserved. Sheen’s cross fell to the feet of Bradshaw at the back post and she fired home her first of the season, low past the keeper.
Stanway then grabbed her second of the game, pouncing on an under-hit back pass to fire Rovers 4-2 in front, but Huddersfield rescued a point with two goals in quick succession.
On 75 minutes, Hastings doubled her tally for the evening when through one-on-one, before Heckler beat Hutcheson from the spot three minutes later, as Rovers’ final fixture finished 4-4.
Donnelly said: “In the first half, we got off to a good start and dominated possession, whereas Huddersfield were happy to sit behind the ball and look to hit on the break.
“After getting a two-goal lead, we were comfortably in the driving seat, but Jo’s error gave them a glimmer of hope. They then raised their game and their tempo, and got a second goal just before the break.
“It was a similar story in the second half, with us dominating possession, but every time we made a mistake, Huddersfield came back stronger.
“We are disappointed in the manner in which we conceded the goals, which were through individual errors and a lack of quality on our part, as opposed to the opposition’s creativity.
“However, I must say, we have crammed an awful lot of fixtures into the closing weeks of the season and our squad has been decimated by injuries and suspensions. The girls had a job to do last night and that was to come away with at least a point to secure a third place finish and although it wasn’t the most convincing performance, it was job done.
“I am delighted with where we’ve finished in the league. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the squad as a whole over the season and it sets us some really achievable targets for next year.”
ROVERS: Hutcheson, Westerman, Fleming, Jones, M. Taylor, A. Taylor, Stanway, O’Donnell, Sheen, Holbrook, Bradshaw.