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Watford 2 (Natkiel 14, Wiltshire pen 40) Sunderland 4 (Mead pen 58, pen 62, Furness 59, Ramshaw 79)
Sunderland continued their 100% start to life in WSL 2 with a stunning comeback away at Watford.
Trailing 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Kate Natkiel and a penalty from Sarah Wiltshire, the Wearsiders looked out of sorts. However the second half was a different story as two penalties from Beth Mead either side of an incredible strike from Rachel Furness turned the game on its head. The outstanding Keira Ramshaw added a fourth with a close range header to complete a remarkable turnaround for the Lady Black Cats.
Sunderland were the first side to threaten after Ramshaw was played through by Furness, but her effort was well blocked by the Watford defence after just three minutes. Watford's first chance came on eleven minutes as Wiltshire was played through one-on-one with Rachael Laws who saved superbly, parrying the ball away to safety.
The breakthrough came in the 14th minute when Natkiel found herself in space at inside the box and her half volley just escaped the grasp of Laws as it dipped under the bar.
Sunderland then took control with Furness firing over before Mead and Ramshaw forced saves from Lauren Davey, who was in fine form. Mead then looked to be felled in the area as she raced through on goal, but the referee controversially waved play on.
Head coach Claire Robinson handed Hayley Sharp her full debut in central midfield after the 23-year-old joined on a dual registration from National Premier League side Leeds United, however she was forced off through injury with less than half an hour played.
The hosts then doubled their lead from the penalty spot as the referee adjudged captain Steph Bannon to have raised her hands to block a cross from Wiltshire - the midfielder stepping up to fire the ball low into the corner of the goal.
Sunderland had applied good pressure at the start of the second half before a handball in the area allowed Mead to fire home from the spot on 58 minutes, the striker beating Davey low to her left for her sixth goal of the season.
Just a minute later Furness unleashed an absolutely stunning strike to pull the visitors level. The Northern Ireland international picked the ball up from Ramshaw 20 yards out and it sat up perfectly for her to unleash a powerful dipping drive into the very top corner.
The comeback continued just three minutes later when Mead went clean through inside the area before being hauled back by the Watford full back. The striker made no mistake, firing low beyond Davey's dive to turn the game on its head.
Laws did well to gather some long balls into the box but Sunderland's comeback seemed to rock the hosts who struggled to get out of their own half before Ramshaw added the fourth. Vicki Greenwell's corner missed everyone for the winger, who had been outstanding all afternoon, to head home unmarked at the back post.
Laws was forced into a late save after Wiltshire's corner almost crept in at the front post but it was the hosts' first real chance of the half, coming in the 88th minute. It should have been five for Sunderland as a determined run and pass from Mead found Ramshaw with an open goal but the winger could only scoop it over the bar.
Bannon launched an heroic tackle in injury time to deny Natkiel a second goal and picked up a knock, the defender being replaced by Megan Beer.
Watford: Lauren Davey, Cally Rowell, Ellie Butterwick, Bonnie Horwood, Renee Hector, Chloe Gunn, Emma Beckett, Kate Natkiel, Jo Wilson (sub Megan Wynne 61mins), Sarah Wiltshire, Georgia Mays (sub Gemma Bryan 75mins).
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Vicki Greenwell, Rachel Furness, Steph Bannon (sub Megan Beer 90mins), Gemma Wilson, Keira Ramshaw, Kelly McDougall, Beth Mead, Emma Kelly, Hayley Sharp (sub Rebekah Bass 27mins).
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
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