Blackburn Rovers Ladies 1-2 Sunderland AFC Ladies
Sunderland Ladies secured another win in this season’s Continental Cup on Thursday night with a 2-1 success over Blackburn Rovers at Bamber Bridge.
Grace McCatty opened the scoring after 37 minutes with a well-taken first-time finish, before Holly Manders struck the second on the stroke of half-time.
Farah Crompton pulled one back late on to half Rovers’ deficit, but the Lasses held on for a welcome three group points to take their total to five.
Mel Reay used the contest as another opportunity to give players minutes and increase the competition in the squad, with Manders, Eve Blakey and 16-year-old Grace Ede all given starting berths.
The game began in an open manner, with chances at both ends as Annabel Blanchard struck the inside of the post for Rovers, just after Blakey had seen a shot blocked from Louise Griffiths’ pull-back.
Blackburn stopper Alex Brooks then denied Charlotte Potts’ headed effort before Blakey fired over the bar from Abbey Joice’s through pass, as the Lasses cranked up the pressure.
And that persistence paid off with eight minutes to the break, McCatty timing her run well to meet Potts’ set-piece delivery, diverting a neat finish past Brooks for her second in two games.
Sunderland looked more and more ruthless as the half wore on, with the reward of a second goal arriving just before the half-time whistle. Blackburn failed to clear from another set-play and as the ball bounced around on the edge of the six-yard box, Manders hit a clinical finish on the turn to double the advantage.
Whilst not as many chances came the way of the Lasses in the second half, Reay’s side slowed the tempo down efficiently as time ticked on for Rovers – despite the withdrawal of Faye Mullen due to an injury issue.
With the hosts forced to commit, Sunderland looked to exploit on the counter and came mighty close to a third, Emma Kelly intercepting Brooks’ pass from goal and squaring for Blakey, both herself and substitute Emily Scarr denied by stern goal-line blocks.
And the home side ate into their deficit with 12 minutes to play, Crompton slotting a tidy left-footed finish past Allison Cowling for 2-1.
Try as Blackburn might, they were unable to swing open the defensive door for good and the Lasses managed the final stages with a maturity beyond their years, securing three points on Conti Cup matchday two.
SUNDERLAND AFC LADIES: Cowling; Mullen (Brown 56’), McCatty, Potts, Griffiths (Herron 76’); Joice, McInnes (Ramshaw 63’); Kelly ©, Manders, Ede (Scarr 63’); Blakey.
Subs not used: Moan.