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Sunderland 2 (McDougall pen 8, Sharp 78) Oxford Utd 0
Sunderland moved four points clear at the top of FA WSL 2 with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Oxford United.
A first half penalty from Kelly McDougall and a second half header from Hayley Sharp - her first goal for the club - were enough to see the Lady Black Cats take advantage of Doncaster's slip up in Durham on Saturday.
Sunderland almost went ahead inside three minutes as good work from Sophie Williams down the left made space for Vicki Greenwell to fire an inch perfect cross towards Keira Ramshaw, who touched the ball over Demi Lambourne but the effort rattled the bar before being gathered by the goalkeeper at the second attempt.
The Lady Black Cats didn't have to wait long though as just five minutes later Abby Holmes broke into the area, dancing past two defenders before being tripped as she neared the six yard box. McDougall stepped up to fire the ball low to Lambourne's left and put Sunderland into the lead.
From there the half became something of a midfield battle with neither side creating much, Oxford's first effort at goal not coming until the 22nd minute. Ramshaw did have a chance to extend Sunderland's lead when she was slipped in by McDougall on the half-hour mark but Lambourne spread herself well to block with her legs.
The second half started similarly as both sides struggled to break each other down, Rachel Furness controlling the play in the middle of the park. It was Oxford who registered the first meaningful efforts of the second period when Lauren Allison first failed to direct a free header on target before Rachael Laws came out well to dive at the striker's feet as she chased down a long ball.
The game was played at a frantic pace throughout and after just ten minutes of the second half, two corners were almost converted by the home side. First Greenwell's set piece found Furness at the back post but as the Northern Ireland international jumped she could only direct it wide of the target.
Just a minute later, Greenwell's corner found Williams but Lambourne produced a stunning save as she flew full length to block the first-time shot. Oxford broke and Allison almost levelled, sliding in just inches from a dangerous low ball across the Sunderland six yard box. From the resulting corner, Helen King rose highest but her header could only clip the bar on the way over.
From there it was all Sunderland as Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts and goalkeeper Lambourne's inspired performances would frustrate both Ramshaw and Williams who had several good chances denied by the pair.
The game was made safe with less than fifteen minutes to go after good work from Furness and Bass forced a corner. From Greenwell's delivery, Hayley Sharp rose unmarked to direct a header into the bottom corner of the goal.
It was almost three for the Lady Black Cats when Ramshaw broke one-on-one with Lambourne who blocked the shot out to Williams to fire a fierce effort off the bar from the edge of the area and Bass' follow up header was gathered well by Lambourne.
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Vicki Greenwell, Steph Bannon, Hayley Sharp, Lauren Briggs (sub Emma Kelly 56mins), Keira Ramshaw (sub Tyler Dodds 88mins), Kelly McDougall, Rebekah Bass (sub Brogan McHugh 88mins), Rachel Furness, Sophie Williams. Subs not used: Gemma Wilson, Megan Beer.
Oxford Utd: Demi Lambourne, Megan Alexander, Amy Chivers, Kayleigh Hines, Sahara Osbourne-Ricketts, Jemma Connor-Iommi, Katie Stanley (sub Gemma Simmonds 72mins), Lauren Allison, Laura Low, Helen King (sub Louise Fellows 72mins), Kayleigh Nutman. Subs not used: Chelsea Coles, Holly Pickett, Lindsay Pinker.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by Susan Gutteridge:
(top) Kelly McDougall gives Sunderland the lead from the penalty spot
(middle) Hayley Sharp makes it 2-0 with a header
(bottom) Sunderland celebrate their second goal
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