Sunderland first team continued their 100% start to the season with a hard fought 3-2 victory at Aston Villa Ladies on Sunday. Although the Wearsiders came out on top in a thrilling and fiercely competitive battle, Villa, victors over promotion favourites Lincoln in their last outing, pushed them all the way.
Sunderland began well with Kelly McDougall going close early on. Steph OBrien and Natalie Gutteridge linked well to cause the home defence problems, before Sunderland had a scare as keeper Helen Aldersons clearance cannoned off Carly Davies and went narrowly wide. As the visitors took control, they almost broke the deadlock after 28 mins, when a Demi Stokes corner was cleared to the edge of the box for OBrien to hit a volley which was cleared off the line. Sunderland did take the lead however, when McDougall played in Nicola Devine on the left, who beat the defender to cross for Sarah Danby to power home a header.HT... Aston Villa 0-1 Sunderland.
Other Results (Sunday 28th September):
NORTHERN PREMIER DIVISION
Leicester City FCW 1-3 Newcastle United
OOH Lincoln 3-0 Manchester City
Preston North End 3-4 Curzon Ashton
Reading 5-0 Rotherham United
Tranmere Rovers 2-3 Sheffield Wednesday
Villa began the second half strongly as they searched for an equaliser and Steph Bannon and Gemma Wilson had to be at their best at the heart of the defence. An in-swinging Villa corner from the left deceived everyone, as keeper Alderson pulled off a great save to keep the ball out. The home side did get their reward after 66 mins from another corner. The ball swung in viciously and Kelly Saggs headed in from close range. This stirred Sunderland back to life and they regained the lead just a minute later. Vicky Greenwells pass split the home defence, as Danby chased the ball down the left and slipped it inside to Devine, who side stepped a challenge to hit the ball into the top right corner. The visitors seemed to have made the game safe in the 72nd min as OBrien and Williams chased an Abby Holmes through ball and it was sub Sophie Williams who scrambled the ball home. Villa did not give up however and they ensured a nervy last few minutes for the Wearsiders, when Natasha Merritt bundled in Erin Vaughans cross after 76 mins. Sunderland were pinned back as Villa pressed forward but a late break almost brought a 4th goal for Sunderland when a Williams shot came back off the bar.
FT... Aston Villa 2-3 Sunderland.
Sunderland... Alderson, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell (Fletcher), Stokes, OBrien, McDougall, Devine, Gutteridge, Danby (Williams). Subs not used- Clarke, Atkinson, Scorer
Manager Mick Mulhern said after the game ... We knew we were in for a hard game, but it was made all the more difficult following a tiring journey on a cramped bus. They never let us settle into our passing game as they tried to crowd us out. But the girls showed a lot of character under difficult circumstances. It wasnt pretty to watch, but they stuck to their task well and got the result they deserved.
This moves Sunderland into second place in the Womens Premier League Northern Division, a point behind Lincoln, but with two games in hand.