BEAUTIFUL it was not but Sunderland Ladies are today sitting pretty in the upper echelons of the Women’s Super League, writes Roy Kelly.
The Lady Black Cats are third in WSL1 following their second victory of the season when a second-half fightback beat Bristol Academy.
Sunderland had started Saturday’s game in a rare position as favourites given Bristol arrived at Hetton Centre as the division’s bottom side without a goal to their name.
But the South West outfit tore up their copy of the script by taking a 10th-minute lead through Angharad James.
Sunderland hit back through Brook Chaplen just 24 seconds into the final 45 minutes with Rachel Furness heading in the winner from sub Vicky Greenwell’s free-kick to atone for the mistake which helped gift Bristol the lead.
“That error was disappointing, but I’m just thankful that we pulled it back and came away with three points,” said Furness.
“I don’t care who scored the winner – it’s the three points that we wanted and have got.
“We’re the underdogs in this league so we’re a fighting team and we were determined to get the three points and we’ve come away with that so we’re happy.
“We aim to get as many points as we can and we’ve had a great start and hopefully we can take that into the next game.”
And hopefully they will kick on from here and the win over Bristol needed some good old-fashioned blood and snot and Sunderland delivered.
Now, head coach Carlton Fairweather and assistant Mel Reay will look ahead to matches at Arsenal on Sunday and Notts County a week on Wednesday.
It was an error from Furness which led to Bristol celebrating their first goal of the campaign.
The midfielder’s blind pass in the middle of the park allowed James time and room to run forward and fire home.
Chaplen was a constant menace to the Academy defence, Mead and Keira Ramshaw had some nice interchanges and Abby Holmes got forward into advanced positions.
The Lady Black Cats went agonisingly close from a slick 44th-minute move between Chaplen and Ramshaw. The latter’s great cross was met by Mead whose header smashed off the bar.
Whatever Fairweather and Reay said at the interval certainly had the desired effect.
They were level just 24 seconds after referee Graeme Fyvie restarted play.
Sunderland attacked down the right with Mead pulling the ball back and Chaplen firing home with her right foot.
Sunderland went ahead in the 72nd minute. Mead, who has been involved in every Cats goal this season, was brought down down the right.
Greenwell, on for Abbey Joice, delivered the perfect free-kick with her trusty left foot which Furness headed home with real venom from eight yards.
Sunderland Ladies: Laws, Holmes, Sharp, Bannon, T Williams, Joice (Greenwell 68), McFadden (McDougall 80), Furness, Chaplen, Ramshaw, Mead. Subs not used: Harkness, Wilson, Kelly, Bass, Gutteridge
Bristol Academy Women: Earps, Dykes, Matthews, McCatty, Lawrence, Ladd, Murray, Watts, Ingle, James, Fantom-Brown (Bird 88) Subs not used: Passariello, A Evans, G Evans, Dalton.
Referee: Graeme Fyvie