Sunderland Ladies 3-0 Blackburn Rovers Ladies
Sunderland Ladies picked up a huge three points with a commanding win over league-leaders Blackburn Rovers, achieving something that no other team has this season.
Maria Farrugia opened the scoring after 13 minutes before Niamh McLaughlin doubled the lead with a precise finish at the midway point in the opening half. Keira Ramshaw got Sunderland’s third with a great strike in the 25th minute before Sunderland closed out the visitors to take the win.
The Lady Black Cats were on a high and unchanged from last week’s win at Nottingham Forrest, but Blackburn came into the game having won all 15 league matches so far and scoring in every game across all competitions including in their only defeat, in the FA Cup to WSL side West Ham United.
Rovers were the first to shoot, Natasha Flint firing wide across the face of goal two minutes in to give Sunderland an early worry.
But it would be the hosts who pushed on. Ramshaw striking over from distance with her side’s first shot of the afternoon.
In the 13th minute, Sunderland took the lead. Malta international Farrugia pounced on a rebound from a Katie Barker effort, squeezing the ball in from a tight angle left of goal.
The hosts almost doubled the advantage four minutes later as Mollie Lambert played Barker through in the box. Rovers ‘keeper Amelia Size parried the winger’s shot but managed to collect the loose ball before McLaughlin could get to the rebound.
However, McLaughlin would get her goal just a few moments later, finding the bottom corner with a great low strike after the ball fell to her on the edge of the area to get her third goal in two games.
Sunderland added a third only 12 minutes after their first to grow the lead further. Captain Ramshaw lashed the ball high into the net with a powerful strike from the outside of her right boot.
Blackburn worked their way back into the game, starting to get forward but couldn’t find a break-through before the break.
Farrugia went close to doubling her tally seven minutes into the second period. Barker’s shot deflected to the edge of the box for Farrugia but her strike cleared the bar.
Blackburn had their best chance in the 57th minute, Allison Cowling getting an important touch on a Lauren Davies cross, pushing the ball away from a waiting Lynda Shepherd.
And Cowling made another important save five minutes later, diving out at the feet of Davies as she went through on goal.
With 20 minutes remaining and having defended resolutely throughout the second half, Sunderland got back on the attack. A quick counter attack almost saw McLaughlin get in on goal but Ramshaw just over hit her pass to the Irish winger.
Amelia Kemp almost caught Size off her line a few minutes later, but the Rovers ‘keeper recovered to catch the left-back’s long range chip.
Farrugia once again had an opportunity eight minutes from time. She stole the ball just outside the Rovers penalty area before shooting, but she sliced her effort wide.
It wouldn’t matter though; another great team performance from the Lady Black Cats saw them take a deserved victory to build more momentum ahead of next week’s home tie with Guiseley Vixens.
Sunderland Ladies: Cowling, Griffiths, McCatty, Potts, Kemp, Ramshaw, Farrugia (Young 90’), Barker (Hutchinson 64’), McLaughlin, Galloway
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Gibson, Beer
Blackburn Rovers Ladies: Size, Jukes, Shepherd ©, Stewart (McDonald 77’), Holbrook, Davies, Fenton, Jordan, Flint, Makin (Taylor 62’), Fletcher
Subs Not Used: Walsh