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REPORT | Belles 1 Middlesbrough 4

9 October 2023


REPORT | Belles 1 Middlesbrough 4

9 October 2023

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The Belles fell to a 4-1 defeat on the Eco-Power Stadium homecoming against Middlesbrough.

A Jess Mett double after a Nichole Havery strike saw the visitors race ahead on their way to the three points in the FAWNL Division One North clash before substitute Anaia Willoughby netted a stunning long-range effort to reduce the deficit.

Ellen Turnbull added a fourth for Boro late in the game.

More than 800 supporters marked the Belles’ return to action at the Eco-Power Stadium and were treated to a competitive clash in which the visitors’ ruthlessness in front of goal was made to count.

The Belles - who were without captain Jess Tugby-Andrew and Lindsey Tugby-Andrew for the fixture - saw their alertness tested early when Turnbull looked to loft the ball over keeper Ellie Sharpe from the edge of the box but landed the ball on the roof of the net.

Laila Abadi was close to giving the Belles the lead when she darted to meet a corner at the near post and diverted the ball narrowly wide.

The lively Turnbull met a low cross with a first time strike but could not turn the ball on target while Abadi struck wide from 25 yards.

Sharpe produced an excellent reaction save with her legs as Havery struck from a Sarah Burn free kick.

And the Belles almost capitalised on the break when Abadi slid a pass through for Lauren Breen, who just missed the target.

Middlesbrough took the lead on 32 minutes when Havery collected the ball in the box and lashed in a shot at the near post.

Turnbull fired over from the edge of the area but it was the Belles who came closest to levelling the scored before the break as Izzy Gigg drew a save from Boro keeper Laura Wareham from 30 yards while Milo Lewis-Powell struck just wide on the stroke of half time.

Middlesbrough extended their advantage on 53 minutes when Mett sent a piledriver home from distance.

Boro continued to pile on the pressure and it took a good save from Sharpe to keep out a long range strike from Ellen Packham.

And the visitors added a third on 66 minutes when Mett hooked in from close range.

The Belles pulled a goal back on 74 minutes as Willoughby ran onto a clearance from Wareham and lobbed the keeper from the touchline.

Sharpe made a good save to deny Jayne Harland while Gigg drew a fine stop from Wareham at the other end.

Belles keeper Sharpe kept out a powerful drive with a wonderful save at the near post before rising to tip away a looping header from Havery.

Boro were not to be denied a fourth however and Turnbull pounced to turn home from close range on 85 minutes after a goalmouth scramble.

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