Last Minute Victory . . . Sunderland Women 2 - 1 Lincoln City Ladies
League leaders Lincoln City missed out on promotion after a spirited victory by a Sunderland side with only pride to play for. The Wearsiders ran out 2-1 winners and condemned the Lady Imps to a first defeat in 11 outings.
Lincoln had the better of the play in the first half and were unlucky not to go ahead after twice hitting the woodwork early on. The visitors continued to dominate but Sunderlands defence, well marshalled by Steph Bannon and Gemma Wilson, held firm throughout.
Sunderland WFC 0 vs 0 Lincoln City Ladies
The second half saw a much improved display from the home side who began to show that they are capable of matching the best. Lucy Bronze was the driving force in midfield ably supported by Elisha Fry. It was Bronze who had the best chance of the early exchanges with a 20 yard drive which had the keeper stretching. Sunderland took the lead on 62 minutes after a powerful run down the left by Abby Holmes who crossed for Steph OBrien to superbly volley home from the edge of the box. Lincoln were visibly shaken and almost went two down a minute later when Nicola Devine cleverly beat her marker but could only find the side netting. The home side were well on top at this stage as a Bannon free kick went narrowly wide then Fry saw her effort just clear the bar. The visitors gave themselves hope with a 76 minute equaliser following a left wing corner. The ball bounced scrappily around the area before falling to Megan Harris who poked it home from close in. This gave Lincoln a lift as they pushed forward looking for the winner. Emma Bentley almost restored Sunderlands lead after 80 minutes as she broke strongly into the box to hit a fierce shot only to see the Imps keeper pull off a fine save. Home keeper Helen Alderson had to be at her best to save two close range efforts late in the game before substitute Demi Stokes broke down the wing to pull the ball back into the path of Lucy Bronze to strike perfectly into the net and break Lincoln hearts.
Sunderland WFC 2 vs 1 Lincoln City Ladies
Alderson, Clark (Lee), Wilson, Bannon, Holmes (Stokes), OBrien, Fry, Bronze, Devine, Gutteridge, Danby (Bentley).
Nottingham Forest gained promotion to the National League by virtue of a 5-1 victory over Sheffield Wed. Sunderland still have two fixtures remaining, both at home vs Aston Villa (27th April) and Preston (4th May). The Wearsiders will finish 3rd and but for a shaky start to the season could have finished higher. However the signs are definitely encouraging for success next campaign.
The Reserves moved out of the relegation zone, after drawing 1-1 at home to Liverpool
FA WOMEN'S PREMIER LEAGUE (NORTHERN DIVISION)
Aston Villa 2-3 Newcastle
Nottingham Forest 5-1 Sheffield Wednesday
FA WOMEN'S PREMIER RESERVE LEAGUE
Everton 0-1 Leeds