Sunderland were welcomed to Moneyfields by a Portsmouth side in high spirits for their first ever game in the National Premier League
following their title win last season.
Both sides lined up under blistering 32 degree heat and the early exchanges were fairly even
with neither side creating a clear cut chance.
Portsmouth settled well into the game and dominated possession in the opening 20 minutes,
but Sunderland were creating the better chances. The first real chance for either side fell to Beth Mead in the 16th minute. A free kick swung in from the left, seemed to catch everyone off guard, but the Sunderland forward managed to place the header just
wide of the upright.
Portsmouth continued to control possession but the Sunderland back four of Halliday, Greenwell, Wilson and Christon
were able to snuff out any attack.
Further chances fell to the lively Mead but a combination of bravery and anticipation from the Portsmouth
goalkeeper thwarted the young forward. This was followed by a mistake from the Pompey keeper, a poor clearance, falling to the feet
of Gutteridge but her long range effort fell agonisingly wide of the post.
On the 31st minute a mazy run from Keira Ramshaw baffled
the Portsmouth defence but her shot trickled wide. At the end of the half efforts from Williams, Mead and Ramshaw came to no avail
as they couldn’t break down a dogged Portsmouth defence, and the sides went in goalless at the break.
The second half began much the
same way as the first, the hosts with a fair share of possession and both teams a little tentative as the heat began to take its toll
the half progressed, Portsmouth failed to deal with Sunderland’s diagonal balls which lead to 2 quick chances. The first fell to Williams
who just lacked composure and blazed over. The second saw Mead through on goal but the Portsmouth keeper smothered the ball as Mead
tried to round her.
With Sunderland pushing on, the game became a little stretched, and for the first time a weaving run by the Portsmouth
number 11 saw Laws called into action, but the effort was fired straight at the keeper.
Sunderland began to control the game for the
next ten minutes and piled on the pressure, Furness, McDougal, Mead and Williams peppered the Portsmouth goal.
The inevitable breakthrough
finally came on the 62nd minute. A half cleared Sunderland corner fell to centre back Greenwell who from 30yrds out and after some
fancy footwork struck the ball into the top right hand corner of Pompey’s net. Greenwell’s first ever Sunderland goal and it was worth
the wait. (see video of Vicky's 30 yd strike below).
Going behind seemed to stun Portsmouth and only 2minutes later Sunderland
doubled their lead. McDougall played a pin point diagonal ball into the path of Williams, and the winger calmly slotted the ball past
the helpless keeper.
Portsmouth’s reaction to Sunderland’s second was a lot better and only 5mins later they got a goal back. After
a scramble on the edge the box, which saw an effort from Portsmouth’s Charley Wilson deflected over the helpless Laws, and drop into
Portsmouth grew in confidence and sensed a way back into the game. They put massive pressure on the Sunderland defence and
only excellent last ditch tackles from their back line kept them in front.
Less than a minute after the heroics at the back, in the
76th minute Sunderland broke and Mead let fire a thunderbolt from the corner of the box that left the Portsmouth keeper with no chance.
This took the wind out of Portsmouth’s sails and Sunderland began to play keep ball and in the 87th minute they killed the game off
following a long ball over the Portsmouth defence to McDougall, who beat the offside trap and coolly chipped the keeper and round
off an excellent performance with a superb 4-1 away victory.
Sunderland WFC manager Mick Mulhern was delighted with the win. “We were
playing a newly promoted team who are obviously used to winning and they provided us with a stern test today and the 30 degree temperatures
made it harder. We were excellent in the second half and our winning mentality shone through and we thoroughly deserved the points
today. I'm delighted.”
Sunderland..Laws, Christon, Wilson, Greenwell, Halliday(Holmes), Furness, Williams, Gutteridge(Atkinson), McDougall, Ramshaw, Mead(Caldwell).
Subs not used...Alderson, Bannon.
Report by Dominic Hewitson