A day later than usual, thanks to those darned Cycling World Championships (we love you really, bike sport!), our next preview for the 2013 FA WSL focusses on the Doncaster Rovers Belles.
Doncaster Rovers Belles FC
Manager – John Buckley
A former professional footballer who made 90 appearances for Doncaster’s men’s team and over 100 for Rotherham United in the 80s and 90s, John Buckley has managed the Doncaster Rovers Belles for almost a decade, making him – along with former-Arsenal ladies manager Vic Akers – one of the most recognisable male management figures in women’s football. Buckley’s outstanding pedigree and longevity in the game makes him an engaging and much admired figure in the women’s game.
Last Time Out
7th – with 9 defeats and just 3 victories, the Belles’ 11 points was nonetheless an improvement on their debut WSL season in which only 9 points were garnered throughout the season.
Former England international Sue Smith might be the Belles’ most recognisable player, largely thanks to her near-100 international caps and her position in the analysis studio for the BBC, but young Irish winger/striker Aine O’Gorman is surely the team’s standout player. Quick, capable of drifting off the wing to great effect and with an eye for a stunning goal (from 30 seconds in – and she almost scored with an even better strike late in the second half), O’Gorman is a genuine talent whose 2 goals in the season’s final 2 games suggest she may carry a genuine threat for the Belles this season.
With just 14 goals scored (the lowest in the league) and 28 conceded (the second highest), the sad fact is that the team’s weak link is its lack of squad depth. Frankly, Doncaster is no footballing centre these days, and the team’s inability to compete financially with its WSL rivals is severely damaging to the club’s longer-term prospects. With the introduction of the FA WSL 2 mooted for next season and clubs such as Manchester City Ladies likely to form part of the new division, Doncaster Belles will have to continue relying on youth prospects to keep themselves in the top tier.
Home vs. Chelsea Ladies, 23/03/13 (Continental Cup)
We hate to say this, but things are looking troubling for the Belles. With Liverpool Ladies, the only club to have finished below them in the 2 seasons of the FA WSL thus far, having strengthened significantly in the close season and other rivals beginning to pull away in terms of squad depth, 2013 could be a real struggle for John Buckley’s charges.