Ladies on the brink after away win

by Ashley Houghton

Mulhern's side move closer to third straight title.

Sunderland WFC 3 Aston Villa WFC 0

Sunderland’s ladies took a huge stride in their bid to retain the FA Women’s Premier League with a 3-0 victory over League Cup winners Aston Villa on Sunday.

Goals from Kelly McDougall, Abbey Joice and Beth Mead secured the points for Mick Mulhern’s side as the Lady Black Cats played their final away game of the season before moving to the Women’s Super League.

Mulhern’s side now know a win against either Cardiff City or Leeds United will secure their third consecutive league title.

Sunderland started brightly and went close early on when McDougall’s free-kick was headed narrowly wide by Keira Ramshaw.

The Lady Black Cats continued to pile the pressure on the Villans and went close to breaking the deadlock again when Joice saw her effort well saved by Villa goalkeeper Megan Walsh.

Mulhern’s side took the lead just before half-time; Steph Bannon’s free-kick was headed on by Sarah McFadden into the path of McDougall, who cleverly lifted the ball over Walsh and into the net.

Sunderland doubled their advantage not long after the restart; Sophie Williams hit a great cross into the area which was met by Mead who glanced the ball into the far corner to record her 29th goal of the season.

And the game was put to bed on the hour mark when McFadden’s through-ball found Joice who calmly slotted the ball past Walsh into the far corner.

Villa hit the post late on before Vicki Greenwell cleared, though Sunderland held firm for a massive three points.

Mulhern was pleased with the professional way in which his side went about recording their third consecutive win.

“I was delighted to get all three points at Villa as it’s a hard place to come and get a result,” Mulhern said.

“My players have grown up a lot in the last year and that was shown today in the professionalism we displayed, especially in the second half.”

Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, McFadden, McDougall, Joice, Ramshaw (Kelly), Williams, Mead.

Subs not used: Alderson, Salicki, Atkinson, Beer.