Blackburn Rovers manager Gemma Donnelly Sheffield United Women v Blackburn Rovers Ladies, Women’s Championship football match, Proact Stadium, Chesterfield, UK - 23 Feb 2020 Photo: Paul Currie for The FA

‘I feel pretty hard done by’ – Blackburn Rovers’ defeat feels harsh claims Donnelly

Blackburn Rovers boss Gemma Donnelly believed that her side deserved a little more from their 2-1 home defeat to Crystal Palace yesterday.

An early goal from Palace attacker Bianca Baptiste settled the visitors into the game and made it an uphill climb for Donnelly’s side. Sophie McLean’s late strike in the second half then deflated Rovers after they had missed some good chances themselves before Annabel Blanchard’s late goal did give them some hope but it was too little, too late.

When speaking with FAWSL Full-Time after the match, Donnelly admitted that it took her side a while to get going but thought they did enough to get a result.

“I thought we did enough in the first half, maybe it took us a bit of time to find our feet,” Donnelly said. “I thought we created enough chances in the first half, I think it was just down to the execution.

“We’ve tried to get something right at the end which has cost us a goal but we have managed to get one back and with five minutes to go, I thought we pushed them sufficiently and I feel pretty hard done by.”

An incident in the 75th minute between Megan Hornby and Kirsty Barton caused a spark between the players and Donnelly believed that both were fortunate to still be on the pitch.

She said “I think the player’s dragged Meg down and as she’s gone to stand up, she’s the player to lean which has then caused a fracas between them and other bodies have got involved, I think both girls were quite fortunate to be on the pitch.”

Rovers keeper Alex Brooks was a standout in the fixture, making some key saves to keep Palace out. Donnelly praised her stopper and encouraged more of the same performances.

“Alex is a great keeper,” she said. “She has her off days but we all do and I think she’s identified the threats well.

“Alex is an experienced head and she’s done a fine job. There’s a couple of areas where she’s played us into pressure when she could have played us out but other than that, she’s done fine and there’s not much she could have done with those goals.”

Throughout the game, Rovers generally defended well and used the offside trap to stop some of Palace’s quick breaks. Donnelly did praise her side for their defensive game but admitted that she was disappointed with the defending for both goals.

She said “It could be better because we conceded two goals, two disappointing goals from our side which is something we’ve got to address. As a whole, the reintroduction of Jade (Richards) has certainly added that experience into the back-line and kept us quite solid at the back.”

Next up for Donnelly’s Rovers are back-to-back FA Women’s Continental League Cup games against Sheffield United and Aston Villa.

By Matthew Ward

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