The Belles won their first FAWNL Division One Midlands game since September after an inspired double substitution helped them to a 2-0 win over Burton Albion.
Charlotte Gill and Chloe Bethell stepped off the bench to score both goals within 13 minutes of coming on to ensure that manager Andy Butler’s first league game in charge of the Belles ended with three points on the board.
Butler’s side had to be patient before finally managing to break down a resilient Brewers’ side who put up a good fight throughout, but ultimately the hosts’ persistence paid off as the Belles secured a big victory.
The Belles showed their attacking intent from the start, and the returning duo of Jasmine Saxton and Hannah McWilliams combined for the first chance of the afternoon.
McWilliams’ pass split the defence allowing Saxton to break clear on goal, however she pulled her effort just wide of the far post.
Moments later, skipper Kirsty Smith fired just over the bar from the edge of the box with the Belles having been awarded a free-kick for a trip on Eva Madarang.
The Brewers had two chances in quick succession on 12 minutes, with Hayleigh Sutton shooting just wide from distance, before Grace Browne fired the ball into the side netting after a good cross in from Fiona Lane.
Smith went close again for the Belles as she tried her luck from distance, though Lily Doocey in the Brewers goal was alert to save well.
Lily Doocey would be in for a busy afternoon with Saxton looking to get back on the scoresheet for the Belles after her spell at Worksop Town, her shot from close range was saved well after Madarang’s brilliant flick on across the box.
Down the other end, debutant Eleanor Sharpe had to be switched on as Ruby Meeson looked to capitalise on a defensive error before breaking clear, but the new Belles’ goalkeeper saved well to deny the visitors an opener.
Those two would be involved in the next effort as Meeson cut inside onto her right foot to shoot, but once again Sharpe was on hand to claim the ball.
Saxton and Madarang were at the centre of things once more for the Belles, with the latter the next to go close to forcing the opener.
Saxton’s low cross went under the body of Lily Doocey and into the path of the Filipina international, only for sister Ella to make a crucial block to ensure the score remained goalless at the break.
The Belles had the chance to get their first goal just 30 seconds after the interval with Nadia Khan breaking clear into the box, however her squared ball into the path of Saxton was intercepted at the vital moment.
There would be no rest for Lily Doocey in the Brewers goal as she was forced into two big saves not long afterwards, the first from another Smith free-kick, before Madarang was denied with another shot which was tipped behind.
Smith’s set-pieces were causing the visitors problems, with Madarang shooting just wide following a free-kick into the box, before McWilliams’ header from a corner went agonisingly past the post.
However, just after the hour, Butler made his first two changes of the afternoon, with Gill and Bethell on to try and force the opener, and within four minutes of entering play, they had done just that.
Yet another Smith corner forced a scramble inside the penalty area, with Gill eventually taking command of the situation.
She had the coolest head in the box to angle a first-time shot into the top corner with her left foot to hand the Belles a deserved lead.
Ten minutes later, the lead was doubled, with a superb counter catching the Brewers out at the back, with Khan pouncing on a loose ball before looping a pass forward for Bethell to latch on to.
She burst into the box and despite pressure from Lane, she kept calm and fired across Lily Doocey and into the far corner to seal three points for the Belles.
Bethell had one last chance in injury time to make the score-line even more comfortable, however she dragged her effort just wide.
It wouldn’t matter though as the Belles saw the game out to earn their first three points of 2020, and ensure that Butler and assistant Nick Buxton kicked off their home league debut in the dug-out with a big win.
The Belles host Solihull Moors next Sunday in the FAWNL Division One Midlands at Oxford Street, with a 2:00pm kick off in Rossington.