Sunderland Ladies took their FAWNL lead to 11 points with an impressive display against Stoke City.
Bridget Galloway got off to lightning starts in either half, opening the scoring after two minutes before Alison Hall equalised for the visitors in the 22nd minute.
Galloway completed her hat-trick with goals in the 31st and 47th minutes, before Keira Ramshaw made things comfortable with a header in the13 minutes from time.
Nicola Hudson brought Stoke to within two goals late on, but Sunderland will be pleased with their commanding win over title contenders.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Jessica Brown and Grace McCatty started after both had trips cancelled. Maria Farrugia returned from international duty with Malta.
Galloway wasted no time in getting Sunderland’s noses in front. The in-form striker reacted quickly to prod home after Neve Herron saw a header blocked on the line.
And the Lady Black Cats dominated early exchanges, with a number of attempts forcing blocks and saves from the Stoke City back line and Charlotte Clarke in goal.
Herron had a chance with 12 minutes played. Megan Beer’s cross found her at the back post but she fired just wide on the half volley.
However, Stoke equalised despite not seeing much of the ball, as Hall’s long range shot escaped the clutches of Claudia Moan to find the net.
Sunderland recovered quickly though, as Galloway doubled her tally as a cross-turned-shot found it’s way in at the far post.
Herron went close again, this time forcing a good save from Clarke. At full stretch to her right, the Potters’ goalkeeper turned Herron’s powerful effort away from goal and Sunderland had to make do with a one goal win at the break.
Galloway would complete the hat-trick two minutes after the restart, reacting quickly to round the ‘keeper before slotting in at a tight angle.
Maria Farrugia forced another good save from Clarke before Herron once again fired wide after getting on the end of an excellent deep free-kick from Charlotte Potts either side of the hour mark.
Potts almost caught Clarke out with a deep free-kick, with the bounce of the ball foring the Stoke ‘keeper to scramble back and push wide.
Ramshaw made no mistake 13 minutes from full-time, powering a brilliant glancing header in at the far post from Louise Griffiths’ cross on the left-hand side.
Stoke pulled one back late on in bizarre fashion. Hudson’s free-kick into the box from just inside Sunderland’s territory made it’s way past everyone, bouncing into the top corner past an unsighted Moan.
The Black Cats took an 11th consecutive win in the FAWNL, moving them 11 points clear of second placed Derby County with a game in hand.
Sunderland Ladies: Moan, Herron (Mullen 81’), Potts, Griffiths, Ramshaw ©, Lambert, Galloway, Brown (Barker 77’), Beer, McCatty, Farrugia (Gibson 77’)
Subs Not Used: Warren, Blakey