Villa began the game with a stiff breeze behind them and Carly Davies intercepted a clearance to send Kelly Clarke clear but she pulled the ball well wide from a good position. A left wing corner for Villa caught in the swirling wind and, in the ensuing scramble in the box, Rachael Laws was grateful to find the ball dropping into her hands. At the other end a cross by Beth Mead broke out to Natalie Gutteridge but her shot went wide of the upright. A Villa free kick in a dangerous position was floated in by Vaughan but Jade Richards headed wide at the back post. As Sunderland broke away, a defence splitting pass by Sophie Williams sent Mead clear but Richards made a brilliant tackle to clear the danger. Soon after Davies intercepted a back pass but her lob over Laws dropped just over the bar. Keira Ramshaw won the ball in midfield and set Mead free again but her snap shot went wide of the goal. Ramshaw again won the ball in the middle and set Mead free on goal but as she closed in she was upended in the box by goalkeeper Megan Walsh. Kelly McDougall stepped up to calmly drive home the resulting penalty after 22 minutes. Ramshaw again beat her marker and laid it into the path of Mead, and this time the ball rolled wide of the post with the keeper beaten. Sloppy play in the home defence allowed Clarke to nip in and shoot for goal, but again it was well wide. A speculative up and over effort from Mead deceived the keeper and scraped the bar as it dropped just over in the final action of the half.
HT... Sunderland WFC 1 0 Aston Villa LFC
At the start of the second half Vaughan picked up the ball in midfield and cut inside but shot well wide. Then a snap shot by Maddy Cusack was comfortably held by Laws. At the other end Gutteridge played the ball through and a deflection left McDougall in the clear but her clever lob cleared the bar. Sherry McCue did well to retrieve the ball on the right and she laid it back for Vaughan to shoot over as Sunderland were living dangerously. The Wearsiders extended their lead though on seventy minutes as Caldwell and Gutteridge combined to release McDougall on the left, her cross was met brilliantly on the volley by Ramshaw and it flew into the net from six yards. Villa continued to push forward without ever really troubling the Sunderland goal. However, the visitors did reduce the deficit in the 84th minute. Sunderland conceded a free kick on the edge of the box and Katie Wilkinson curled it over the wall and although Laws got a hand to it she could not prevent the ball from going in. Moments later Laws was injured in a collision with McCue and was replaced by Helen Alderson. Villa gained another free kick in a dangerous position but this time the effort was well over. In the dying moments the home side kept possession well to deny Villa any space and hold on for a hard earned victory.
FT... Sunderland WFC 2 1 Aston Villa LFC
Sunderland...Laws(Alderson), Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Ramshaw, McDougall, Caldwell, Williams, Gutteridge, Mead.
Subs(not used)...Christon, Salicki, Chidester.
Manager Mick Mulhern spoke frankly after the game, This was a real test as Villa are a very strong team with a very direct style. We coped admirably and Im proud of the players and the way they dealt with a style of play we dont come across every week. The girls showed great character.
Report - Maurice Alderson
Sunderland Ladies took the points in a hard fought 2-1 victory against a gritty Aston Villa at a windswept Hetton Centre on Sunday. In doing so the Lady Black Cats maintained their 100 per cent start to the campaign and consolidated top spot in the National Premier League. A first half Kelly McDougall penalty and a brilliant second half volley from Keira Ramshaw secured victory for the defending champions.