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Mixed emotions for Donnelly after thrilling draw

“To come away from Sheffield with a point to finish off the first half of fixtures is obviously very pleasing”

13 December 2020

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Rovers manager Gemma Donnelly was disappointed to let a lead slip at Sheffield United but felt content with a draw at the end of a topsy-turvy contest at Technique Stadium.

The Blues extended their unbeaten league run to six league matches thanks to three goals in the first 45 minutes and some last ditch defending from the likes of Kayleigh McDonald and Alex Brooks at the back.

Katie Wilkinson’s two first half penalties and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk’s late equaliser meant it ended 3-3 and that Rovers would take home one point, rather than all three.

“Had you offered me a point at the beginning of the game, I probably would have taken that, against fourth place, away from home,” Donnelly admitted, speaking after full-time.

“But then when you go 2-0 up in the opening minutes, it makes you think you might get more from the game.

“I thought from about 15 minutes onwards we were pretty much on the back foot and we were probably quite fortunate to come away with a draw in the end.

“You can’t give two penalties away and expect to come away with anything really and we were a little bit sloppy today.

“But to come away from Sheffield with a point to finish off the first half of fixtures is obviously very pleasing.”

Donnelly felt the six-goal thriller demonstrated the quality on show between two sides sitting fourth and fifth in the FA Women’s Championship table.

She continued: “That’s what you get with two teams who are desperate to do well and compete and who have got similar players in that they are highly competitive, physical and have technical attributes for good measure.

“I think we capitalised on their slow start but they grew into the game and then offered us some real problems.

“I think we’ve done incredibly well to hang on to a point, which shows the very important character of the group.

“But we need to identify is that we’ve let a two-goal lead slip and for that I’m a little bit disappointed.

“However, Sheffield are a very good team so it was always going to be incredibly tense travelling here today.”

It was an end-to-end encounter from the first few seconds, with Edwards’ opener timed at 20 seconds in, before Jordan added to the lead on six minutes.

The Rovers boss was pleased with the attacking intent shown in the first half, which ended with Jade Richards’ second of the season.

“They were great goals as well,” Donnelly added. “Maz (Maria Edwards) has latched onto a deflected shot by Elise (Hughes), who we have been encouraging to shoot more and be more selfish, which she’s done in the opening 20 seconds.

“And then Maz is first to react and follow up and she’s put that away which is fantastic for her.

“The second goal, it came off their player so she was onside and prodded that home, I know Katie (Quinlan) has been working with her in terms of her finishing, so that’s fantastic to see.

“It will do the world of good for both players’ confidence and then a great leap from Jade (Richards) from a free-kick, which we’ve spent a lot of time working on, on the training ground.

“For Jade to score that, having conceded a penalty from her handball, it was a good way to kind of make up for it.

“And it was a great header, well placed and she leapt higher than everybody on that pitch by about five foot, so well deserved.”

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