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Women's Football News
Watford 2 Sunderland 8
Sunderland sent out a message to all the teams hoping to take their Premier League title with a stunning away win at Watford in their opening match.
After going behind twice the Black Cats delivered a clinical display of finishing and, but for four fine Michelle Beazley saves, could have reached double figures. Sunderland's pace, width and attacking in numbers simply overwhelmed the Watford defence which was repeatedly caught on the break as well as being unable to defend set pieces, especially corners.
There was little to suggest the final result in the opening 40 minutes as Watford played some delightful attacking football to match their visitors' positive intent. Having been denied a penalty when Cori Daniels appeared to foul Beth Mead when clean through, Sunderland fell behind as a Brooke Nunn pass was taken beyond Helen Alderson by Sarah Wiltshire and Katie Owen finished from close range. Sunderland equalised within 30 seconds with a neat finish by Nataliie Gutteridge from Sophie Williams' cross.
Wiltshire nearly gave Watford the lead from a Nunn through ball before Lois Roche added a wonderful second with an instinctive lob from 35 yards after Nunn had dribbled past three Sunderland players. Amazingly the visitors were again level within a minute, Williams crashing home a left wing cross. Beazley made two fine saves from Mead and Rachel Furness, but was beaten by Mead's near post run and volley from a free kick as Sunderland finished the half on top.
Sunderland came out with real purpose after the break. Beazley again saved Watford, diving at Kelly McDougall's feet after a Gutteridge flick on and turning over a powerful Gutteridge drive at full stretch.
However Furness was unmarked again to plant in a header from six yards from the corner. Mead, who had a fine game, added a fifth almost from the kick off on 56 minutes.
Watford battled on, testing Alderson twice from long range and earning a couple of corners but they always looked under threat of quick breakaways by Williams, Keira Ramshaw and Gutteridge. McDougall finished well from a Williams cross to make it six, Furness again headed in a corner at the far post and finally substitute Jordan Atkinson beat Beazley to a through ball and finished calmly on 86 minutes to make the score embarrassing for the hosts who, to their credit, kept coming forward in the final minutes to try and gain a consolation.
Despite losing players from the title winning team, Sunderland look a potent attacking force who may well take some stopping this season. Watford showed attacking flair but will hope to recover from the
defensive fragility shown in this match. Luckily they will not meet many teams with the attacking potential of Sunderland in the WPL.
Watford: Michelle Beazley, Holly Miles, Cori Daniels, Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts, Chloe Gunn, Lois Roche, Brooke Nunn, Paige Logie, Megan Wynne, Katie Owen Sarah Wiltshire. Subs: Jess Charmain, Emma Sherwood, Georgie Mays, Kirsten Walker, Josie Green.
Sunderland: Helen Alderson, Nicola Devine, Rachel Furness, Abby Holmes, Becky Saliki, Gemma Wilson, Kiera Ramshaw, Kelly McDougall, Natalie Gutteridge, Beth Mead, Sophie Williams. Subs: Rachel Laws, Jordan Atkinson, Vicky Greenwell, Ellie Christon, Hannah Cauldwell.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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