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Sunday, 14 April, 2002, 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK
Belles pile on pressure
England midfielder Vicky Exley struck twice for Doncaster Belles
England midfielder Vicky Exley on target for the Belles
By BBC Sport Online's Tony Leighton

England midfielder Vicky Exley struck twice as Doncaster Belles beat Brighton 4-0 to pile the pressure on Premier League leaders Arsenal.

On Thursday night the Belles stunningly inflicted the Gunners's first League defeat in over two and a half years with a 4-0 home success.

And victory by the same margin over the improving south coast outfit has put second-placed Donny to within two points of Arsenal in the race for the championship.

Only two other National Division games were played on Sunday, but the results were highly significant.

Tranmere Rovers' 1-0 win at already doomed Sunderland, combined with Barry Town's 2-1 home defeat by Charlton, means that Barry - barring an incredible sequence of results - will be relegated along with the Black Cats.


Doncaster Belles 4-0 Brighton

An early goal by Exley set the super-confident Belles bounding towards a win which has opened up a title race that only seven days ago looked all over bar the shouting.

Sarah Abrahams and Exley, with her second goal of the afternoon, effectively wrapped up victory by half time.

England captain Karen Walker headed in her 16th goal of the season to complete the scoring six minutes from time.

Karen Walker
Walker heads home for Belles

Arsenal have a game in hand on the Belles and are still favourites to retain the championship they won last season.

But after losing their unbeaten record and dropping five points in their last three games, the Gunners are wobbling at precisely the wrong time.


Barry Town 1-2 Charlton Athletic

Two first-half goals by reserve midfielder Ann Marie Heatherson gave Charlton victory which lifted them up to third in the table.

Between Heatherson's strikes Trudy Williams replied from the penalty spot, then the Welsh international striker unluckily hit the bar in the second half.

A battling performance was not enough to earn Barry a point and they now face relegation unless they can produce a miracle.

With only three games left to play, the second-from-bottom team are nine points behind both Southampton and Tranmere.

And their final three opponents include not only Tranmere but also the National Division's top two teams, Arsenal and Doncaster Belles.


Sunderland 0-1 Tranmere Rovers

A 50th-minute goal by Kim Holden was enough to give Tranmere a victory which all but ensures their National Division future.

After an open first half in which both sides missed chances, Holden rounded goalkeeper Lisa Vile to tuck in the all-important breakthrough goal.

Sunderland's 11th defeat of the season means they will almost certainly end the campaign as the National Division's bottom club.

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