‘Best team won’ – Blackburn Rovers boss Donnelly doesn’t complain about Durham loss

Blackburn Rovers manager Gemma Donnelly admitted the top team won after her side slipped to a 3-1 loss to Durham at Maiden Castle this afternoon.

Ellie Leek’s opening goal gave the Rovers a perfect start, but Durham fought back and reversed the scoring thanks to a brace from Abby Holmes and a goal from Becky Salicki.

When speaking with FAWSL full-time after the game, Donnelly said she was happy with her team’s performance in some games, but ultimately they were second best.

“I thought in the first half, when we were leading 1-0, they missed a penalty, hit the post, hit the crossbar and I thought we looked fragile on set pieces.” , said Donnelly. “To be honest I thought we were lucky to be 1-1 at halftime.

“In the second half I thought we were probably a little calmer, we competed better but Alex (Brooks) mis-synchronized a ball in the box, it fell into his hands and they were done. It gave them a bit of fire in the stomach and then they got another on set piece which is disappointing as we are doing pretty well not conceding on set piece. It is then a mountain to climb coming back from 3-1.

“I thought the girls hadn’t given up, they were showing great character, we created a few chances and even after conceding two goals in the second half I thought we were probably playing better in the second half.

“It’s not the score we were hoping for and I think the best team won today, but it’s a tough place to come, especially since we had a tough away game in mid week we looked tired today.

“While we wanted to get something today, it was put out of reach when that second goal came in.”

Donnelly then discussed the error for the second base. While the Rovers boss doesn’t want to criticize anyone directly, she has pointed out that FA Women’s Championship games are won and lost with good margins and there is no room for error, especially against high-level opposition.

She said: “At this level you have to be on your game all the time, that’s what I expect and that’s what the players expect. I know she (Brooks) is going to kick herself for it, but it’s nice margins and we keep saying it. Tash (Fenton) gives the penalty in our area following a late challenge and it was a penalty, they didn’t score but it was a drop so Alex could have made a number of good saves in this match and in the previous games but all it takes is that ball that she didn’t claim correctly and they push it in. It gives us a mountain to climb.

“I don’t blame Alex at all, it was just one of those mistakes that happened today and a number of players made mistakes today. If you’re playing against a team like Durham, especially in the last game on December 19th before the break, you don’t want to make mistakes because they will punish you and they did.

The Blackburn Rovers return to action on January 9, 2022 when they face Liverpool at Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

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