Doncaster Rovers Belles 2-2 Sunderland Ladies
Missed first half opportunities and a poor second-half display saw Sunderland Ladies drop two points to second bottom side Doncaster Belles.
The Lasses took the lead with nine minutes on the clock as Anna Young picked out the top corner with a curling, left-footed effort from distance.
Katie Barker almost doubled the lead with 17 minutes played, but Belles ‘keeper Chloe Gray made a good save low at her near post to push away the danger.
Bridget Galloway did get Sunderland a second four minutes later as she pounced on a low cross from Keira Ramshaw to score at close range.
Just before the half-hour mark the visitors passed up a great opportunity as Young played the ball across the face of goal, however, no-one was there to finish.
The wind was strong and in Sunderland’s favour in the first half, but the Black Cats’ failed to use the advantage.
With a rare long-range effort, Georgia Gibson almost did capitalise on the conditions in the 39th minute. The midfielder’s dipping drive from long range just didn’t dip enough to get below the crossbar.
Despite not being at their best or most ruthless, Sunderland held a comfortable lead at the break.
The second half was slow, Sunderland dominated possession, but Doncaster provided a physical challenge, with the wind firmly blowing in their direction now.
Young had the first real shot of the half with 12 minutes gone, but she fired a half volley over after a knockdown from Galloway.
With 20 minutes remaining, substitute Niamh McLaughlin almost put the game out of site, turning a header from Grace McCatty goalwards. However, the Northern Irish midfielder saw the effort blocked on the line and cleared.
Sunderland did have the ball in the net three minutes later, Mollie Lambert’s long-range effort hit the crossbar, but Ramshaw reacted quickly, getting in front of her marker to finish. However, the assistant referee raised his flag and the goal was ruled out for offside.
Doncaster pulled a goal back with six minutes remaining; Chloe Bethell managed to squeeze the ball in at the near post, beating Allison Cowling, the first time the Black Cats’ ‘keeper had been tested.
Four minutes later, Doncaster completed the comeback, as Abby Watkinson found the bottom corner from long range as the hosts caught Sunderland on the break.
With the game in added time, the officials would take centre stage. Ramshaw hit a free-kick that appeared to cross the line before ‘keeper Gray could scoop the shot out. The referee and his assistant, who had already disallowed one strike from Ramshaw, remained unmoved and as Sunderland won a corner the referee blew to bring the game to a close.
Despite decisions being against the visitors, a naïve second-half displace and the missed opportunity to assert dominance in the first half saw Sunderland drop two valuable points and slip to third in the league, with a Tees-Wear derby clash with Middlesbrough next on the Black Cats’ calendar.
Sunderland Ladies: Cowling, Kemp, Griffiths, Ramshaw, Lambert, Galloway, Gibson (McLaughlin 60’), Young, Barker (Atkinson 78’), Warren, McCatty
Subs not used: Stonehouse, Stewart, Skull