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Donnelly: Fine margins the difference

"We've had a good run out against a Super League team who have tested us and I didn't think we looked out of place"

8 October 2020

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Rovers Ladies manager Gemma Donnelly took heart from the way her side performed against Birmingham City in the Continental Cup on Wednesday evening.

The Blues put in a stellar defensive performance to keep Birmingham at bay until the 84th minute, when Claudia Walker struck to hand the visitors all three points in the opening group stage match.

And while the Rovers boss was frustrated to lose so late on, she credited the efforts of her team in pushing a Women's Super League side all the way. 

"I'd say I'm disappointed. I thought we did enough for a draw," Donnelly reflected after the game.

"It was relatively stalemate across the park, I don't think they came at us as much to be honest, so I thought we deserved to get something from it. 

"The girls were fantastic tonight, we put bodies on the line and we created half chances going forward, I think it's fine margins.

"We cost ourselves the goal to be honest, but that said, we should take the positives from tonight's performance. 

"We've had a good run out against a Super League team who have tested us and I didn't think we looked out of place."

Donnelly shuffled the pack ahead of Sunday's league trip to Lewes with a full debut handed to midfielder Leah Embley and Alex Brooks in between the sticks for the first time this season. 

She was also able to name eight substitutes on the bench, including new loan signing Maria Edwards, recruited from Manchester United earlier this week. 

"I think we can be proud of the performance tonight, individually and collectively," she added.

"The subs that we brought on made an impact, which keeps players on their toes with the strength and the depth we've got in the squad now, so we're building. 

"But are we there yet? No, we've still got a few fine touches, we've still got a couple of players out injured to come back into the fold as well.

"The aim was to try and give a number of the squad players a run out tonight and we've done that. 

"We've obviously introduced Maz (Maria Edwards), I thought she looked really lively, she's definitely going to be a threat for us moving forwards.

"But all of the girls have done so well tonight and they're disappointed they've not come away from it with anything."

Donnelly believes there are plenty of positives from the game, including the application from her team, which she hopes to take into Rovers' return to FA Women's Championship action this weekend. 

"I don't want to take anything away from Birmingham because they got their deserved goal. But you'd think we'd have learnt our lesson from these late goals we've conceded. 

"It was a high intensity game, it was highly competitive, although there was not much action in each goalmouth. 

"It's just that one lapse of concentration, it was a transition from our attack and just from that play, I'm disappointed, but that's football.

"We've challenged ourselves against the best and if we play like we have done tonight and create those chances that we have done tonight in our league return, we can get a positive result.

"So I look forward to facing Lewes, it will be a different challenge, we'll prepare as we always do and we've got the team and the squad now to go into these different challenges head on."

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