Sunderland Ladies' league lead now four points.
Sunderland Ladies 2 Oxford United Women 0
Sunderland AFC Ladies moved four points clear at the top of FA WSL 2 with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Oxford United Women.
A first-half penalty from Kelly McDougall and a second half header from Hayley Sharp - her first goal for the club - were enough to see the Lady Black Cats take advantage of Doncaster’s slip-up in Durham on Saturday.
Sunderland almost went ahead inside three minutes as good work from Sophie Williams down the left made space for Vicki Greenwell to fire an inch-perfect cross towards Keira Ramshaw.
Ramshaw touched the ball over Demi Lambourne but the effort rattled the crossbar before being gathered by the goalkeeper at the second attempt.
The Lady Black Cats didn’t have to wait long though; just five minutes later Abby Holmes broke into the area, dancing past two defenders before being tripped as she neared the six-yard box.
McDougall stepped up to fire the ball low to Lambourne's left and put Sunderland into the lead.
From there the half became something of a midfield battle with neither side creating much, Oxford’s first effort at goal not coming until the 22nd minute.
Ramshaw did have a chance to extend Sunderland’s lead when she was slipped in by McDougall on the half-hour mark but Lambourne spread herself well to block with her legs.
The second half started similarly as both sides struggled to break each other down, Rachel Furness controlling the play in the middle of the park.
It was Oxford who registered the first meaningful efforts of the second period when Lauren Allison first failed to direct a free header on target before Rachael Laws came out well to dive at the striker’s feet as she chased down a long ball.
The game was played at a frantic pace throughout and after just ten minutes of the second half, two corners were almost converted by the home side.
First Greenwell’s set-piece found Furness at the back post but as the Northern Ireland international jumped she could only direct it wide of the target.
Just a minute later Greenwell’s corner found Williams but Lambourne produced a stunning save as she flew full-length to block the first-time shot.
Oxford broke and Allison almost levelled, sliding in just inches from a dangerous low ball across the Sunderland six-yard box.
From the resulting corner Helen King rose highest but her header could only clip the bar on the way over.
From there it was all Sunderland as Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts and goalkeeper Lambourne’s inspired performances would frustrate both Ramshaw and Williams who had several good chances denied by the pair.
The game was made safe with less than fifteen minutes to go after good work from Furness and Bass forced a corner.
From Greenwell’s delivery Hayley Sharp rose unmarked in the six-yard box to direct a header into the bottom corner of the goal.
It was almost three for the Lady Black Cats when Ramshaw broke one-one-one with Lambourne who blocked the shot out to Williams to fire a fierce effort off the crossbar from the edge of the box. Bass’s follow-up header was gathered well by Lambourne.
Sunderland now face another a second home game in a week when Millwall Lionesses travel to the Hetton Centre on Sunday 10th August for a 12 noon kick-off.
Sunderland Ladies: Laws, Holmes, Bannon (c), Sharp, Greenwell, Briggs, Ramshaw, Williams, McDougall, Furness, Bass.
Subs: Wilson, Dodds, McHugh, Beer, Kelly.