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Donnelly: A hard fought win

"It's been hard but we've dragged out a result today so well done to the girls"

18 October 2020

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Manager Gemma Donnelly felt Rovers Ladies showed their battling qualities to earn a vital 1-0 victory over London City Lionesses.

Georgia Walters' first-half penalty gave Rovers a lead to hold on to and the Blues produced a solid defensive performance to keep out the visitors and earn a first clean sheet in 2020-21. 

"Obviously I'm pleased to get the three points, it moves us away from the bottom," a delighted Donnelly said after the game. 

"I think it's been deserved after the games that we've just lost out on. It's been really hard fought this afternoon. 

"We've had a penalty, in fact we've scored before that, it was deemed offside, I need to check that back, I haven't seen it yet, a great header from a set piece from Jade (Richards). 

"And then Saffron (Jordan) has done her wizardry in the 18-yard box and got us a penalty. Georgia (Walters) has stepped up and scored a fantastic goal through that penalty. 

"That was after quite a fraught start from us. They came here with a plan and were probably super confident from last weekend and their first win. 

"But we quickly nullified that and out of the two teams we were the better in the first-half."

Rovers came under pressure from the visitors in the second 45 minutes as they pushed for an equaliser and Donnelly was pleased to see her side stand firm.

"The second-half seemed to go on for centuries because we were literally on the back foot for the majority of it," the Rovers boss continued.

"We had to match them up because they were finding gaps, they were trying to play through us, but they couldn't. 

"Once we matched them up, I thought we made it really difficult for them, we've conceded several corners and we've stood strong. 

"I think it's testament to the girls today how hard they have been to break down and also maintain their 1-0 lead, so fair play to us for that result and we've got our first clean sheet."

Donnelly felt the tactical changes made in the second period helped to ensure Rovers ground out a first home victory of the new campaign. 

"I thought we needed to toughen it up and add more bodies into midfield so we moved Ellie Fletcher from full-back into midfield, working alongside Tash (Natasha Fenton)," she explained. 

"It enabled Em (Emma Doyle) to just move forward to play as a No.10 and bring Issy (Dean) on, who has been absolutely fantastic. 

"She's been out for a couple of weeks with an injury, but she's done great when she's come on. 

"Like I said, the whole team defended collectively as a team, more so in the second-half. 

"I don't want to say being on the back foot was our game plan, but they've come at us and we've stood firm. It's been hard but we've dragged out a result today so well done to the girls."

That result puts Rovers on six points from the opening five games, going into the latest international break, ahead of facing Coventry United away on Sunday 1 November (2pm kick-off).

Donnelly added: "We felt pretty hard done by over the last couple of weeks, we moved on, but this was a game today that I wanted to try and get something from. 

"It puts us into a better position moving up the table and we've got a game in hand on the bottom two or three. 

"We've got a bit of a rest now so it enables us to put our heads together, work hard in training and then plan for Coventry in a couple of weeks time. 

"They themselves have pulled out a fantastic result today. But we'll focus on us and our next game, which happens to be Coventry. 

"For now we'll reflect on our performance. I know the girls were absolutely buzzing to pick up some points and we'll go away the happier of the teams."

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