The Belles picked up their first win of pre-season with a 4-1 victory over FC United of Manchester Women at Broadhurst Park on Sunday.
A Jasmine Saxton treble was followed by a stunning strike from skipper Lauren Breen, with a consolation goal from the hosts’ Liv Hooper all that FC United could muster in a convincing win for Zoey Shaw’s side.
It was the hosts who enjoyed much of the play early on, with home captain Kirsty Chambers seeing a shot deflected wide for a corner inside the opening minute.
From the resulting set-piece, Jess Battle would see her cross almost sail all the way into the back of the net, only for right-back Isabella Trevillion to head away on the goal-line.
Tori Thomas would then be called into action from the next corner for the hosts, blocking Shaunna Jein’s goal-bound header from another Battle cross.
Battle then had another good chance to open the scoring on the counter, this time seeing her shot from the edge of the box trickle wide of Kirsty Johnson’s far post.
The Belles’ first chance came after 19 minutes, with Trevillion’s superb cross-field pass looping over the FC United defence to find Breen.
The new captain took a touch to set herself before shooting from the edge of the area, only to see Chloe Ainsworth at full stretch to palm the ball over the crossbar.
The hosts would then go close to grabbing the opener after Yvette Loukes crossed the ball in for Jordon Bailey, only for Bailey to poke the ball wide from six yards out in front of goal.
Captain Breen would then be on hand for the Belles’ third goal-line clearance of the afternoon, with Battle rounding Johnson before taking on Chloe Starling one-on-one.
Battle’s shot was tame but looked set to trickle into the back of the net, only for a lung-busting run from the skipper to get back and clear away the danger, and it would be an interception that would prove to be vital just five minutes later.
Abby Watkinson’s running down the right saw her break-away into the area, forcing a handball just inside the box to leave the referee with no option but to point to the spot, despite the many protests from the hosts.
Saxton stepped up to send Ainsworth the wrong way and coolly slot home into the left-hand corner to give the Belles the lead just a minute before the break.
The hosts would have the first opportunity of the second period, with Battle again causing the Belles problems, this time feeding the ball across to Maxine Smith who skimmed the top of the crossbar with her effort from the edge of the box.
Shaw’s side wouldn’t have long to wait before they stamped their authority on the game though, scoring their second goal just after the hour with a brilliant break down the right-hand side.
A quick run down the wing by the Belles’ trialist saw her cross the ball low into the area into the path of Saxton who took a touch to set herself before shooting low into the corner beyond the goalkeeper to double the lead.
Chambers was doing her best to keep FC United in the game, and her run and shot provided Johnson with her next test in the visitors’ goal, with the Belles stopper palming the ball behind for a corner.
It would be another break-away though that would see Saxton, and the Belles, score a third of the afternoon, with a shot from the trialist being palmed out into the path of the forward who duly obliged by firing into the back of the net to seal her hat-trick.
Saxton was in great form and almost grabbed a fourth from Watkinson’s looping cross, however this time she was unable to direct her header goal-wards, instead nodding the ball just wide.
Against the run of play, the hosts did get a goal back, with Hooper quickest to react to the rebound following substitute goalkeeper Grace Dixon’s save from Battle’s effort, but just three minutes later, the three-goal advantage would be restored in stunning fashion.
A cross from the left was deflected away by an FC United defender, but it would be skipper Breen who picked up the loose ball, and she sent a left-footed effort into the top corner from outside the box to seal a first win of pre-season for the Belles.
The Belles now move on to their final pre-season friendly next weekend, with a trip up to West Yorkshire to face Ossett United on Sunday August 11.
Belles season tickets are still available for just £20 from the Club Doncaster Box Office - purchase yours now by visiting in-store at the Keepmoat Stadium, by calling on 01302 762576, or online at tickets.clubdoncaster.co.uk