Sunderland Ladies preserved their long unbeaten run in this top of the table clash but took it to the wire against a tough tackling Leeds Utd at Farsley on Sunday. In a game of contrasting halves Leeds dominated in the opening half and deservedly took the lead through Clare Sykes. It was all change in the second period however as the Lady Black Cats stepped up to the mark and showed patience as they probed for an equaliser which duly arrived from top scorer Beth Mead with just 90 seconds remaining.
Leeds pushed the visitors onto the back foot from the off and did not allow the leaders to settle into any rhythm. Natalie Gutteridge went down following a strong challenge and had to be helped from the field in the 4th minute, to be replaced by Sarah McFadden. It was all Leeds in the early stages and a shot from Tanya Rich went narrowly wide. McFadden had added some steel to the midfield and she was spraying the ball around well as firstly she set Sophie Williams away bur her effort went wide, then she released Keira Ramshaw who crossed for Beth Mead to head wide of the upright. At the other end a Leeds in swinging corner caused an uneasy moment in the visiting defence as keeper Rachael Laws went down under a challenge but the ball was scrambled clear. Rebekah Bass came close for the home side moments later as she ran on to a through ball and toe poked it past Laws but her effort came back off the post. Substitute McFadden stayed down following a midfield clash and had to be replaced by Ruth Sutcliffe and while she was off the field for treatment Leeds grabbed the lead after 26 minutes. Former Sunderland player Rachel Lee slotted a perfect ball through for Clare Sykes to run on to and she drew Keeper Laws out before calmly slotting home. Sunderland breaks were rare and as Williams went clear her cross was easily cut out by Hayley Sharp before it reached Mead in the middle. A Sunderland corner from Kelly McDougall was caught by keeper Juliana Draycott and she quickly released the ball up field and as Leeds moved quickly Becky Salickiís timely challenge averted the danger and Vicki Greenwell completed the clearance.
Leeds Utd LFC 1 vs 0 Sunderland WFC
It was Sunderlandís turn to come out of the blocks sharply as the second half got under way and Williamsí smart play freed McDougall to send in a shot which was brilliantly tipped over by Draycott. From the resulting corner Suttcliffe headed narrowly over. Ellie Christon surged forward and exchanged passes with Ramshaw before sending in a dangerous cross which was scrambled away. Leeds reminded the visitors of their credentials as they broke away for Danielle Sheen to hit a fine shot which Laws did well to parry away and Christon completed the clearance. At the other end Williams and Sutcliffe combined well to set up Ramshaw who hooked a shot over the bar. Mead and Sutcliffe saw efforts go astray as the visitors were finding it hard to break down a stubborn home defence. Good work down the right between Christon and Mead set up Ramshaw but her effort was gathered by Draycott. A penetrating run by Williams had Leeds on the back foot before she set up Mead but her attempt was hacked clear as Leeds were visibly tiring. A free kick into the Sunderland box found Sharp at the far post but keeper Laws was alert and turned it away. Just as it seemed that the Wearsiders unbeaten run was coming to an end they grabbed a deserved equaliser in the 89th minute. Steph Bannon launched a long free kick into the Leeds box and following a scramble the ball was kicked off the line but only fell to leading scorer Mead who lashed it home from 18 yards out and send the visiting fans home happy.
Leeds Utd LFC 1 vs 1 Sunderland WFC
Manager Mick Mulhern was relieved after the game....ďIíve got to say Iím happy with a point after our disappointing first half display. We never got going and conceded when down to 10 players with a basic error. We had a productive chat at half time and the display in the second half was far better and we deserved at least a point against a very well organised Leeds side. I'd spoken to Beth with 5mins to go, and told her to stay alive in the box as she would get a chance. That chance came and she buried it.Ē
Sunderland..Laws, Christon, Bannon, Salicki, Greenwell, Gutteridge(McFadden)(Sutcliffe), McDougall, Furness, Williams(Atkinson), Ramshaw, Mead
Subs(not used)..Alderson, Wilson.