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Ladies suffer play-off heartbreak

28 May 2017

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Rovers Ladies play-off final

Rovers Ladies saw their hopes of promotion to the Women’s Super League dashed at the final hurdle following a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at The Valley.

Gemma Donnelly's side had gone through their entire league season unbeaten, en route to lifting the Premier League Northern Division title, but it was the Southern Division champions who triumphed in the capital.

Bianca Baptiste, who bagged a brace against Rovers in the Women's FA Cup back in February, was the Tottenham hero once again, scoring a goal in each half, before Wendy Martin sealed Spurs' success in spectacular style in stoppage time.

The play-off final would start evenly, without any clear-cut chances, until Ronnell Humes volleyed onto the roof of the net from a Spurs corner on 19 minutes.

Rovers responded well, with Ella Toone finding Saffron Jordan in the box, but she couldn’t connect properly and her stabbed shot rolled agonisingly wide of the target.

Toone then dragged a 20-yard drive just wide, before Spurs opened the scoring on 35 minutes. Baptiste got in behind the Rovers defence and her shot across goal went in off the far post.

Buoyed by the goal, Baptiste looked lively again moments later, driving forward down the left, before playing the ball inside to Martin, whose came close to finding the far corner.

The two teams exchanged chances at the start of the second half, as Sophie McClean's strike went just over at one end, before Jordan blazed wildly over the bar at the other, before Rovers really ought to have drawn level on the hour mark.

A cross from the right was headed back across goal by Toone and Jordan's side-foot shot from close range cannoned back off the upright.

Rovers were made to pay, as Spurs doubled their lead with their next attack on 66 minutes. Humes found space down the left, before setting the ball back Baptiste, who fired a superb shot past Danielle Hill from the edge of the box.

Donnelly's side dominated possession late on as they looked to find a route back, but three minutes into added time, Spurs struck on the counter, as Martin fired a stunning volley over Hill from fully 30 yards out.

It was a disappointing end to what has been a sensational season for Donnelly's side, who secured the league title with four games to spare and also retained the County Cup.

ROVERS: Hill, Whitham, McDonald, Stewart, Pearson, Shepherd, Holbrook, Fenton (Montgomery 75), McCoy (Taylor 89), Toone (Rankin 76), Jordan.
Subs not used: Cook, Fryer.
Booked: Toone, Shepherd, Jordan, Taylor.

TOTTENHAM: Wayne, Leon, Hector, Schillachi, Rawle (Soobadoo 88), Green, McClean, Vio (Mollony 90), Martin, Humes (O'Leary 69), Baptiste.
Subs not used: Pond, Blanchflower.
Booked: Green.
Goals: Baptiste (35, 66), Martin (90+3)

Attendance: 826

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