Sunderland Women kicked off the season in style with a confident performance away at newly promoted Reading.
From the start, Sunderland asserted their midfield dominance over the newcomers. McDougall had a shot cleared and an effort from Danby went agonisingly wide. The breakthrough came from a direct free kick curled in by Bannon from outside the box after 25 minutes.
The defence of Bannon, Burnip, Greenwell and Wilson coped comfortably with the sporadic attacks from a physical Reading side. Sunderland continued to dominate the first half with Bronze, Gutteridge and Danby all having shots well saved. Persistent work on the left wing by Stokes won a free kick but the resultant attempt went over from Burnip. However, their dominance was rewarded when debutant Kelly McDougall fired home from long range shortly before the interval.
HT... Reading FC Women 0 - 2 Sunderland WFC
Reading came out with renewed belief in the second half, but the experience of the young Sunderland side showed as Holmes, Danby and Gutteridge all came close to scoring. After 66 minutes, Holmes was replaced by OBrien who had a shot blocked minutes after coming on. A further double substitution after 71 minutes saw Gutteridge and Stokes replaced by Williams and Devine. Williams impact on the game was immediate as good work from Danby down the left resulted in a pull back for Williams to slot home on 77 minutes. Successive corners from Nichola Devine caused panic in the home side with Wilson having a header well saved. An excellent save from keeper Alderson denied Reading a late consolation and the ladies saw out time to record an excellent opening victory.
Sunderland Women ... Alderson, Burnip, Wilson, Bannon, Greenwell, Holmes (O'Brien), Bronze, McDougall, Stokes (Devine), Gutteridge (Williams), Danby. Subs not used: Laws, Clark (Jade)
Coach Karen Scorer commented, I am pleased with the result but know that the players did not play to their full ability and I feel that this young squad will go from strength to strength throughout the season.......
While Boss Mick Mulhern was very happy with the result...... it was a great result against a very physical Reading side who were unbeaten in pre season and have achieved three promotions on the bounce. They are used to winning games but so are we, I am delighted with how we went about our business today despite not playing to our full potential.
Other Results (Sun 17 Aug)
NORTHERN PREMIER DIVISION
Aston Villa LFC 4 v 2 Curzon Ashton LFC
Newcastle United WFC P v P OOH Lincoln LFC
Preston North End WFC 2 v 3 Tranmere Rovers LFC
Rotherham United LFC 0 v 6 Leicester City FCW
Manchester City WFC 3 v 2 Sheffield Wednesday LFC