Katie Cropper scored her first hat-trick as Leicester United Women bounced back to beat Doncaster Rovers Belles at Melton on Sunday.
Back at their Signright Park home after back-to-back National Women’s League defeats, United were looking to respond with a win, and did so with a good, solid performance.
The hosts started with the bit between their teeth, pressing Doncaster all over the pitch, and within two minutes Courteney Cropper had hit the bar.
Within minutes, Bartle forced a save as Leicester piled on the pressure, and it wasn’t long before the deadlock was broken.
Natalie Hurst was played in and brought down just outside the box to earn a free-kick.
Katie Cropper stepped up and smashed the set-piece into the corner to give United the lead.
Doncaster realised they were in for a tough afternoon as Leicester continued to demand the ball all over the pitch.
The visitors did break through the Leicester lines, but goalkeeper Hannah was quickly out to save well with her feet.
Leicester continued to create chances, but couldn’t find the net, and seven minutes from half-time, Doncaster equalised.
Parity was short-lived as Cropper claimed her second straight from the restart.
Clever play between the midfield three saw Fitzpatrick deliver the ball into the box for Cropper to finish.
The game was back in Leicester’s hands and it was 3-1 before the break when Hurst spread play wide to Fitzpatrick who marked a great debut by squeezing the ball into the net from a tight angle.
Leicester knew Doncaster would come out fighting for the second half, but it took a while to get going, with Leicester off the pace.
This allowed Doncaster to halve the deficit once more by grabbing their second.
Leicester started to find their feet again and numerous chances went begging.
Robinson took the ball around the keeper, but saw her finish blocked on the line as Belles defended heroically.
Fitzpatrick nearly added her second from a corner, but headed narrowly wide.
Great link-up play from both Cropper sisters saw Katie complete her hat-trick and put the game to bed with 15 minutes left.
Leicester were still creating chances, Hurst forcing a close-range save and Cocking going close to adding Leicester’s fifth.
Next up is Bedworth United Ladies at Melton Sports Village on Sunday (kick-off 2pm). All support is welcome.