Football: Belles bring class to bear: Doncaster dominate women's FA Cup final

Knowsley United . . .0

Doncaster Belles. . .1

SATELLITE television opted to serve this enthralling women's FA Cup final live from Scunthorpe yesterday. A move which no doubt will boost the standing of female football, but one which unsettled Doncaster Belles sufficiently for their manager to claim their performance was their worst for three seasons.

In the end it mattered not: Doncaster claimed their sixth FA Cup trophy. Their victory keeps them in line for the treble and underlined their domination of women's football in this country.

That the margin of victory was only one goal also speaks volumes for the progress of Knowsley. The Merseysiders were formed just three years ago and they, too, had their eyes on the treble.

Doncaster were better organised defensively and their front line of Karen Walker and Gail Borman were more threatening, but Knowsley had their chances and could have equalised a minute into injury time when Karen Burke hit the bar with a fierce right-footed shot. But it was simply a matter of Knowsley missing a last-gasp opportunity. The Belles took half an hour to settle down and their offside trap looked vulnerable.

Knowsley - who meet the Belles again in the League Cup semi-final a week on Wednesday - hopes must have been raised when the Belles captain, Gillian Coultard, had to withdraw after 34 minutes. But four minutes later Doncaster scored what proved to be the decisive goal, Walker heading in Joanne Broadhurst's corner.

Knowsley United (4-4-2): Thomas; Hayward, Taylor, Coughlin, McQuiggan; Baker, (Holland, 82), Davis, Gore, Galimore; Burke, Harper. Substitutes not used: Barnes, Parsons, Phillips, Markey.

Doncaster Belles (4-4-2): Davison; Lowe, Ryde, Jackson, Woodhead; Goodman, Murray, Coultard, (Lisseman, 34; Chipchasse, 89), Broadhurst; Walker, Borman. Substitutes not used: Young, Edmunds, Skillcorn.

Referee: I Hemley (Ampthill).