A late goal from Laura Elford saw the Belles narrowly lose 1-0 to Huddersfield Town in the Quarter Finals of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Challenge Cup at the Stafflex Arena.
Andy Butler made three changes to the side that beat Burton Albion a week ago. Sophie Scargill, Emily Cahill and Holly Housley came in for the absent Sophie Bell and Izzy Trevillion, with Niamh Doody dropping to the bench.
In a tight contest, both teams had limited chances early on, with the majority of the play being in the middle of the park as the Belles looked to close down their hosts and force mistakes. Defences were on top, and for a time both sides struggled to gain any fluidity.
However, Huddersfield got their first real chance on 20 minutes, when a cross into the box eluded Belles keeper Sharpe but luckily went past the post. This was followed by a shot from the edge of the box that went just over the bar. In return, great wingplay by Nadia Khan was providing problems for the home defence, and Belles came closest to breaking the deadlock when a Lauren Breen corner was flicked on by Jess Andrew who found the unmarked Housley, but her powerful volley went just over.
This pattern continued after the break as both teams pressed for the opening goal. On 52 minutes Sharpe again had to be alert to palm away a dangerous cross, and a minute later a great through ball by Hannah McWilliams found Lindsey Tugby, whose tantalising cross zipped across the six-yard box unable to find Jasmine Saxton.
The end-to-end play continued as the game opened up, with the Belles pushing forward but unable to capitalise in the box. At the other end there was a let-off for the Belles on 73 minutes when Huddersfield had the ball in the net, only to be ruled offside. The hosts continued to pile on the pressure and Sharpe had again to be alert to superbly tip a low shot around the post.
However, the deadlock was broken when Huddersfield took the lead with 15 minutes to go - a strike by Elford was initially saved by Sharpe but the spin on the ball was too much and it ended up in the net.
Andy Butler’s side pushed for a late equaliser and on 88 minutes had the chance when a Breen free kick found Khan, who took it down well and hit it on the volley, forcing the keeper into a save.
The final whistle went shortly afterwards, seeing the cup run come to an end and the focus turning back to the league with an away trip to Peterborough United next weekend.