Rovers Ladies boss Gemma Donnelly admits she feels ‘hard done by’ after their application to enter the newly formed Women’s Championship was turned down.

It was revealed last week that Rovers, winners of the FA Women’s Northern Premier Division, were not one of the 12 sides to make up the second tier of women’s football next season.

The newly-formed Manchester United ladies team were admitted to the league as were Leicester City who finished second in Rovers’ division.

Rovers were beaten in the play-off final for the second successive year, this time by Charlton who went up, but Donnelly still felt her side had a realistic chance of winning promotion through the application process.

But Rovers’ application was rejected, meaning they have now had three unsuccessful attempts to join the second tier.

“I always said that I wanted to try and keep control of things,” Donnelly told the Lancashire Telegraph after her side missed out on promotion.

“We had hoped to win the game to give us the chance of winning promotion.

“When we lost I thought we might have a second chance because I felt that our application was the strongest that we had submitted. I thought we had strengthened it from last season and it was deemed good enough then but we didn’t get the win that we needed.

“Personally I was so disappointed to be refused and rejected. I have seen the reasons why and I don’t think that they are sufficient or justified.

“I think it was probably more to accommodate those that they had let in so I do feel hard done by personally.

“I don’t think there was much more we could have done to get a place.”

Rovers won three trophies last season but the defeat to Charlton meant the campaign ended in disappointment.

Next season, new rules brought in by the FA mean the winners of the Northern Premier Division, which Rovers have won in the last two season, will earn automatic promotion and not face a play-off.

But Donnelly knows it will be a tough test to claim a hat-trick of league titles.

She added: “I think the next stage, if the rules don’t change again, is that it will be promotion for winning the north and south leagues with no play-off.

“The only way will be to win the league.”

On her future, and that of the club, the Rovers boss added: “First and foremost I think it is important to allow the players and the staff a period of reflection and to not think about football for a period of time.

“For me I think I need to speak to the club and would like to judge what they want me to do.

“It will be a monumental task to win the league again because every team is going to step up their game to try and win promotion.

“We can’t just sit and stay the same.

“If we are going to do it then we have to do it properly so they are the questions I will have to ask the club and get the answers to.”