Belles suffered heartbreak at the Eco-Power Stadium, narrowly losing 1-0 to Tier 3 side Huddersfield Town Women in the final of the Sheffield & Hallamshire County Cup in front of over 500 fans.
Playing in their first cup final since winning the County Cup back in 2010, Belles manager Nick Buxton made one change to the starting line up that lost to Northampton, bringing Holly Housley back into the side and Ryley Johnson dropping to the bench.
After a cagey opening with both sides testing each other out, the game burst into life on seven minutes when Belles nearly took the lead as Sophie Scargill chased a long ball down the right, shimmied her marker and put in a dangerous cross that was parried out to Abi Coley, but the sixteen-year old's goal-bound shot was cleared off the line before it could roll into the net.
A minute later it was Huddersfield who had the chance to score as Yasmin Mason looked to turn in a low cross across the six yard line, but Izzy Trevillion got across to put in a great tackle and take the ball off Mason's toes before she got her shot away.
Belles came back and on twelve minutes a great run through the midfield by Izzy Gigg found Scargill who looked to play in Sophie Brown bearing down on goal, but her low volley was collected comfortably by Abi Megeary in the Huddersfield goal. Four minutes later, Huddersfield survived a handball scare as Brown won the ball and played in Coley down the left who crossed for Scargill at the back post, only to seemingly hit a defender's arm on the way through, but the referee waived away the claims.
Moments later the Terriers' defence almost gifted Brown a goal as she chased down a short back pass to Megeary who, on being tackled by Brown, lost the ball but was then grateful to see it fall into her arms before Brown could claim it with the goal gaping.
Belles were playing with a confidence and composure that had been absent at the Northampton game and causing Huddersfield problems, but the Tier 3 side came back into the game after that period of Belles pressure when on twenty minutes a long ball over the top was met down the left and crossed into the box, only for Emily Cahill to put in a great block on the subsequent shot with the ball going out for a corner.
A few minutes later, Ellie Sharpe was in the right place to collect a direct header by Mason from another dangerous Huddersfield corner, and on thirty two minutes made a fantastic one-handed save down on the line to deny a low Britt Sanderson shot that would have otherwise gone in, with captain Jess Andrew making the clearance to safety.
Three minutes later it was Megeary denying a goal for Belles when Holly Housley crossed to the back post for Liv Harness to flick the ball back across the face of goal, but the Terriers 'keeper stood up to claim the ball at close range and stop it reaching Scargill ready for the tap in on the line. Moments later Megeary again saved another certain goal when great build up play from the back from Harness through GiggS, cargill and Brown saw the ball fall for Tugby who tried her luck from 25 yards, with Megeary having to tip the dipping shot onto the bar and then watch it go over to safety.
As half-time approached Belles continued to press with impressive passing and movement and the defence able to deal with Hudderfield's attacking play, but with no further real chances for either side the score remained goalless going into the break.
Huddersfield had the better of the opening exchanges as the second half got underway, with a free-kick on fifty minutes that went well wide. Two minutes later Trevillion was again there again to take the ball off Mason's toes just as the striker looked to get clear in the box, and moments later good work down the right found Sanderson in space in the box who turned and hit a powerful shot into the side netting.
Hudersfield continued with the pressure, forcing a number of corners from which they had always looked dangerous, and it was from a corner in the sixty-eighth minute that they took the lead with a powerful close-range header from BRITT SANDERSON that Sharpe could only get a hand to as it went in the net.
Belles looked to respond, with Coley played in by Brown but the ball running away from her before she could get her shot away. On seventy-four minutes Coley was again in the action but this time couldn't get a clean touch when meeting a rebound from a Tugby free-kick into the box, with the shot going wide.
As the game moved into its end phase, Belles continued to press and force Huddersfield back but were guilty of overplaying the final ball with attacks coming to nothing. However, with ten minutes to go they had a great opportunity to level the score when a long ball out of defence from Harness caused confusion between Megeary and her defenders under pressure from Coley, with the Belles youngster collecting the ball and playing it back into the path of the advancing Tugby who unfortunately put her shot over from 14 yards.
Manager Nick Buxton looked to keep the pressure up on the Terriers' defence by bringing on striker Mollie Barlow for Emily Cahill, but Belles had to be careful as they pushed forward with spaces opening up and Huddersfield happy to slow the game down.
As the game went into added time and driven on by the crowd, Belles put together a superb passing move down the left when Tugby won back the ball on the byline, and with Housley and Coley involved found Gigg on the edge of the box who dribbled her way past three players to pull the ball back for Brown, only for some desperate Huddersfield defending to clear the ball away to safety.
With time running out Ryley Johnson replaced Lindsey Tugby, as Belles looked to get the ball into the Huddersfield box at every opportunity. The Terriers were working hard to repel the attacks and were relieved to see a fierce low shot from Trevillion go just wide of the post. Moments later the referee blew for full time to bring to an end a superb game of football worthy of a cup final and in which Belles had more than matched their Tier 3 opponents, as reflected in the great reception given to both teams by the appreciative crowd.
Team: Sharpe, Andrew ©, Harness, Trevillion, Housley, Cahill (Barlow 83mins), Tugby (Johnson 90mins), Gigg, Scargill, Coley, Brown.
Subs unused: Rattenbury, Bedford, Morris
Goals: Huddersfield: Sanderson 68 mins
Belles Player Of The Match: Izzy Gigg