Keira Ramshaw of Sunderland WFC

Ladies consolidate league lead

by Stuart Vose

Home win for womens' side.

Sunderland WFC 4 Charlton Athletic WFC 1

Sunderland’s table-topping ladies’ side tightened their grip on the National Premier League with a fine win over Charlton at Eppleton CW on Sunday.

The Lady Black Cats, who had drawn both of their previous two games, were too hot to handle with Beth Mead, Natalie Gutteridge, Keira Ramshaw and Sophie Williams all on target.

Keeper Rachael Laws chipped in at the other end, producing a vital penalty save with the score at 2-0 before Mick Mulhern’s side went on to make sure of the points.

The double champions, still unbeaten this season, had the better of the early chances with leading scorer Mead denied by Charlton keeper Kelly Cooper when one-on-one.

Having made much of the early running, Sunderland cashed in just after the half-hour when the persistent Mead finished well following a defence-splitting through ball from Rachel Furness.

Mead notched 31 goals last season to finish as the country’s top goalscorer and is showing little sign of slowing down this term.

The lead was doubled three minutes into the second half when full-back Abby Holmes crossed well for Gutteridge to head in off the crossbar.

Sunderland continued to press, but Charlton were offered a way back into the game from the penalty spot when Stephanie Bannon fouled Gemma Bryan.

Gemma Shepherd stepped up but saw her effort well saved by Laws at full stretch.

The miss was to prove crucial as the league leaders effectively ended the game as a contest just three minutes later.

Nicola Devine’s cross was delightfully dummied by Mead for the onrushing Ramshaw to blast home an unstoppable shot.

Kit Graham reduced the arrears late on, but Sunderland weren’t done as Mead teed up substitute Williams to slot home.

After seeing his side go four points clear at the top, manager Mulhern said: “I was absolutely delighted with the girls.

“We had drawn the last two games and that’s a blip by our standards.

“The response was magnificent and the players should be proud of themselves.”

Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, McDougall, Furness, Ramshaw (Sutcliffe), Devine (Williams), Gutteridge, Mead.

Subs Not Used: Salicki, Chidester.

Att: 205