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Sunderland Ladies finally completed their group stage of the League Cup when they travelled to Nottingham Forest on Sunday. Having already qualified for the knockout stage it was a useful run out after having not played a game in almost a month due to bad weather. In a tough encounter played in difficult conditions the game ended all square at 2-2 with Keira Ramshaw scoring both goals for Sunderland as the Lady Black Cats continued their unbeaten start to the season.

 

As the game got underway in cold, blustery conditions and on a poor playing surface it was Forest who started brighter forcing an early corner which was cleared by the Sunderland defence. The home side continued to push forward and Aleen Whelan should have done better from a good position.

 

Sunderland started to come into the game and a cross from the left by Keira Ramshaw was met by Beth Mead who fired narrowly over the bar. At the other end a free kick by Natasha Meade was comfortably held by Rachael Laws. Good work by Mead resulted in a cross from which Jordan Atkinson just failed to make a connection.  Mead was beginning to cause problems for Forest with her pace and determination.

 

The home side continued to press forward at every opportunity however and only a timely tackle in the 20th min by Becky Salicki halted their progress. Laws was again called into action in the 25th min when Amber Hughes broke through but the Sunderland keeper stifled the danger. Good link up play down the right between Abby Holmes and Mead resulted in a shot by Rachel Furness but the keeper saved well. Sunderland continued to push on and good work by Ramshaw, Natalie Gutteridge and Kelly McDougall resulted in Atkinson again coming close. 

 

Further link up play between Mead, Atkinson and Gutteridge resulted in a shot by McDougall which was easily saved by the Forest keeper. Sunderland were now having more possession and finally broke the home resolve in the 38th minute following a  goalmouth scramble in which Ramshaw eventually headed over the line. 

 

HT... Nottingham Forest 0-1 Sunderland

 

Forest again started the brighter of the two teams with two quick corners; however these were comfortably dealt with by the Sunderland rearguard of Holmes, Bannon, Salicki and Greenwell. Following a Sunderland corner Forest broke quickly and drew level on 55 minutes when Natasha Meade’s effort from 20 yards out left Laws helpless. 

 

Sunderland were soon back in front, however, following a floated free kick by Bannon which was only partially cleared to Ramshaw who hit an unstoppable volley into the top right hand corner.

 

The cold and windy conditions as well as the uneven pitch weren't allowing Sunderland to play their usual flowing football but they continued to press and in the 60th minute they almost extended their lead as Atkinson cleverly won possession and ran clear but her effort was well saved by the keeper. 

 

Good link up play between Atkinson and McDougall on the left resulted in a cross which was met by Ramshaw who headed back across goal for Gutteridge to head home but it was ruled out for offside. In the 70th minute Abbey Joice came on for her first team debut and a great first touch found Ramshaw whose resulting shot was just wide of the post. Forest continued to press for an equaliser and on 75 minutes Laws saved brilliantly from Amber Hughes. In the 85th minute, and from another Sunderland corner, the home side broke away to equalise as Hughes gave Laws no chance with a great strike. In the last few minutes Ramshaw missed a golden opportunity to clinch the game but her fine effort scraped the top of the bar and honours remained even.

 

FT... Nottingham Forest 2-2 Sunderland

 

Sunderland...Laws,Holmes,Bannon,Salicki,Greenwell,McDougall,Furness,Gutteridge,Ramshaw, Atkinson(Joice),Mead.  Sub not used..Wilson.

 

Manager Mick Mulhern was philosophical after the game..... “We were a little rusty after a few weeks off which is understandable but there were several positives.  Firstly we kept on going on a pitch that was heavy on the legs. Also Keira took her goals well and there was a debut for 16 year old Abby Joice who did very well.  Most important of all the undefeated run continues so I'm obviously pleased.”

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9 Dec 2012
Nottingham Forest 2 Sunderland 2
Keira Ramshaw heads home Sunderland's first goal - click image for more photos courtesy of Rich Green - Nottingham Forest Ladies FC