BARKER AND THE BELLES ALL SET FOR VITAL CLASH
DONCASTER Rovers Belles midfielder Sophie Barker says the positive attitude in the squad is the key to keeping them up as they go into a crunch game against Reading next week.
The Belles, who are still seeking their first points of the season, welcome the Royals to the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday in a mustwin fixture that could see them close the gap on their opponents to just three points.
Despite entering the closing stages of the campaign, this is the first time the two will have met in the league this season.
Doncaster have lost all ten of their matches so far, while Reading have picked up six points – all from draws – from 13 games. Defeat would put a nail in Doncaster’s coffin.
But Barker, who is one of the more experienced heads in the squad having played for Lincoln and Notts County in previous campaigns, is confident her side can pick up the vital points needed. She said: “One thing that hasn’t changed all season is the positive environment at the club and the belief that we are going to stay up.
“We look at the Reading game and believe that we can win, but, importantly, we know we cannot drop points, because it will make our job of staying up very hard.”
Between now and October 30, the Belles play almost a third of their entire league fixtures, which is astonishing considering the season started in March.
While not using it as an excuse, the 25-yearold admitted the disjointed fixtures had made things difficult.
“I think we’ve had it the hardest out of everyone, and you can see that with how many games we have left,” she said.
“It’s hard to build momentum when you’re preparing for a game for three weeks at times, but now is a chance to build that momentum and pick up some much-needed points.”
The last time these two sides met at the Keepmoat was in the FA WSL2 last season, with Reading coming out triumphant by three goals to nil, and inflicting the Belles’ only league defeat of the season in the process. With games home and away against the Royals in the coming weeks, Barker is confident that survival is still a realistic possibility, but knows her side will need to grind out results elsewhere to make that a reality.
“We’re looking to get six points out of Reading, while we also play Notts County and Liverpool, who we only lost out to narrowly, so we’re still positive.
“We know it’s in our hands, we can’t lose next week, and that’s the mentality we’re going in with.”
HUNGRY: Sophie Barker