Sunderland Ladies travelled to Leeds in the top of the table clash and after a hard fought game it was the Wearsiders who emerged victorious to leapfrog their Yorkshire rivals. In a game dominated by the visitors Beth Meads first half goal proved enough to settle the contest and send Sunderland to the summit of the Womens National Premier League.
Leeds began the game brightly and pushed Sunderland deep into their own half. Despite facing a stiff wind it was the visitors who created the first chance of the game as Rachel Furness split the home defence for Beth Mead to power goalward but a great tackle by Faye Birkby prevented a goal scoring opportunity. The Lady Black Cats were not to be denied however, as they took the lead in the 14th minute. Fine work by Rachel Lee and Kelly McDougall resulted in Natalie Gutteridge playing the ball through for Mead who closed in on goal. Although Draycott in the Leeds goal appeared to have it covered she collided with her own defender and the ball broke loose for Mead to slot home her eighth goal of the season. Leeds created their first opportunity in the 18th minute as an in swinging corner from the left bounced on the top of the bar. Soon after a Leeds free kick found Hayley Sharp unmarked on the edge of the box but her effort sailed high over the bar. That was the last time the home side threatened as Sunderland grew in confidence and totally bossed the game for the remainder of the half. Indeed the visitors should have increased their lead on several occasions as McDougall, Gutteridge and Nicola Devine all went close. On the stroke of half time a clever free kick by Sophie Williams caused panic in the Leeds defence and Sunderland were queuing up to score but somehow the ball was scrambled clear.
HT... Leeds Utd Ladies 0 vs 1 Sunderland Ladies
The second half began with Sunderland still the stronger force and a powerful run by Abby Holmes resulted in the ball arriving for Williams to play in Gutteridge but her snapshot was well saved by Draycott. As the visitors continued to push forward efforts from Williams, Gutteridge and McDougall all went begging. Then as Williams played the ball across a great turn by Mead in the box left her marker static but her shot screwed across the face of goal and wide. A Steph Bannon free kick again caused problems as Gutteridge headed narrowly over. A clever one two between McDougall and Mead led to the former striking a shot from 25 yards which was well held by Draycott. Leeds stepped up the mark in the latter stages in search of an equaliser and following a right wing corner Sharp brought a fine save from Helen Alderson. Moments later Alderson had to be alert again as she pulled off a double save as the home side came close. The Sunderland stopper was rewarded for her bravery with a knock to the face which required treatment, but despite blood streaming from her mouth she was able to continue as the defence held firm to see the game out and gain a valuable 3 points in their quest to retain their Premier League title.
FT... Leeds Utd Ladies 0 vs 1 Sunderland Ladies
Sunderland...Alderson, Holmes, Bannon, McFadden, Devine, Lee (Wilson), Furness, McDougall, Williams, Mead, Gutteridge (Ramshaw).
Subs not used...Salicki, Atkinson, Greenwell, Christon, Atkinson, Gardener.
Boss Mick Mulhern was jubilant after the game : Im delighted with the performance and the result. We knew it would be tough to win at Leeds, but we have a squad who thrive on the big occasion.
We were organised and disciplined and always looked a threat in possession. I couldnt have asked for more. We thoroughly deserved our victory.
Come and support Sunderland Women in their next match when they host Aston Villa next Sunday, 16th October, at the Hetton Centre (Eppleton CW). Kick-off 1pm.