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Sunderland 4 (Mead pen 2,10, Ramshaw 48, Williams 82) Watford 1 (Adamson 43)
Sunderland increased their stronghold in the race for promotion after a thumping FA WSL 2 home win over Watford.
The Lady Black Cats went two ahead inside the first 10 minutes thanks to Beth Mead's brace with the visitors pulling a goal back just before half time through Sasha Adamson. Keira Ramshaw scored shortly into the second half before Sophie Williams' fine volley sealed the points.
The hosts got off to the perfect start when right back Abbey Holmes was brought down inside the box after a blustering run forward. Mead stepped up to fire the spot kick high into the top left corner of the goal, leaving Watford keeper Lauren Davey helpless.
Just eight minutes later Sunderland earned a goal kick close to the goal line on the edge of the box; Kelly McDougall's delivery was flicked towards goal by Steph Bannon but it was Mead who claimed the final touch to put her side in front.
Sunderland continued to press down the wings but couldn't test force Davey into a save despite spending much of the second period deep in the visitors' half. As the hosts wound down to the break, Watford equalised with only their second effort on goal.
After a defensive mix up between Holmes and Helen Alderson, the ball fell to Sasha Adamson on the edge of the area, the forward powerfully finishing beyond Alderson to give her side a lifeline.
The second half saw a similarly promising start for Sunderland however; a neat one-two with Vicki Greenwell allowed Rebekah Bass to cross for Mead. The striker's effort was well blocked but Ramshaw followed up to blast the ball into the bottom corner from six yards.
Just before the hour mark Sunderland nearly extended their lead as McDougall's corner found Bannon unmarked at the back post but the ball was just too high for the captain who could only direct the ball over the bar.
Ramshaw was unlucky not to add to her goal with a quarter of the game remaining after smashing the post with a strike from just inside the area, Rachel Furness placing the follow up narrowly wide.
With eight minutes to go, Sunderland secured the points through substitute Williams who controlled McDougall's cross with her head, then chest before acrobatically volleying into the bottom corner from eight yards.
The hosts went close again before the end when Furness had her header cleared off the line before Davey produced a fine double save from Williams and Furness.
As the Lady Black Cats were the only side in the top three to play this weekend, the win leaves them eight points clear with four games remaining.
Sunderland: Helen Alderson, Abby Holmes (sub Megan Beer 69mins), VIcki Greenwell, Rachel Furness, Steph Bannon, Hayley Sharp, Keira Ramshaw, Kelly McDougall (sub Lauren Briggs 85mins), Beth Mead, Abbey Joice, Rebekah Bass (sub Sophie Williams 58mins). Subs not used: Alice Harkness, Gemma Wilson, Natalie Gutteridge, Chloe Johnson.
Watford: Lauren Davey, Georgia Mays, Hollie Wride, Chloe Gunn, Leighanne Robe, Ellie Butterwick, Sasha Adamson, Stacie Donnelly, Kim Farrow, Kate Natkiel, Magda Mosengo (sub Ashleigh Deacon 77mins). Subs not used: Shayla Burgess, Ella Hill, Madison Scheffer, Vanna Lee.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by Susan Gutteridge:
(top) Beth Mead controls under pressure from Georgia Mays
(bottom) Keira Ramshaw scores Sunderland's third goal
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