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Parris header sinks Sunderland
 Women's Football News 2 Apr 2015
 
Sunderland 0 Manchester City 1 (Parris 20)
A late onslaught came up just short as Sunderland were defeated by Manchester City despite an encouraging display. 
 
Nikita Parris's close range header after 20 minutes was the difference between the two sides in a close fought contest. The home side generated a number of chances but couldn't find a way through, with Beth Mead an ever-present threat up front.
 
Buoyed by their 2-1 victory over the Reds - the defending champions - Fairweather's team made a bright, confident start in front of a bumper crowd of 1,433 at Hetton. But it was City who carved out the first half chance with 15 minutes played; captain Jill Scott just failing to get on the end of Sarah Wiltshire's dangerous cross from the left with opponents in close attendance.
 
A clever first time through ball from Rachel Furness released Mead at the other end three minutes later, but City keeper Alex Brooks - in for the suspended Karen Bardsley - raced from goal to hack clear in the nick of time.
 
The visitors hit back to take the lead through Parris, who rose highest to nod a precise header beyond Rachael Laws and inside the far post.
 
The lead would have been doubled in quickfire fashion but for a great reaction save from Laws, who somehow blocked almost on the line from the unmarked Wiltshire after a free kick evaded everyone.
 
Sunderland's best hope of a leveller looked to be Mead, who twisted past two players in the box but just couldn't get enough power behind the resulting shot.
 
Mead's next effort had plenty behind it, but Brooks saved well down by her left-hand post. The striker turned provider on the half hour, supplying a great low cross for Brooke Chaplen, but the home debutant couldn't get a clean connection on the ball and the chance was gone.
 
Sunderland were having plenty of joy going forward, with Mead giving the City defence a torrid time, though the hosts had to be wary of City's quality as the impressive Toni Duggan almost added a second goal just before the break. The striker latched onto an incisive through ball to get in behind the defence, and her angled low shot beat Laws but bobbled just wide of the far post.
 
Sunderland boss Carlton Fairweather made a change at the break, with Emma Kelly replacing Sophie Williams prior to a quieter second half.
 
Issy Christiansen's effort from distance - well gathered by Laws on the hour - was the first real effort of a low-key start to the second period. Mead remained a threat and carved out an opening when she slalomed beyond two opponents out of the left, but the forward's cross carried just beyond a colleague at the back post.
 
The game came alive again in the last 20 minutes, with Laws producing a smart tip over to deny the dangerous Duggan. At the other end, more good skills from Mead bought her a yard of space, and she deserved better than to see her rising drive fly wide of the target before Furness curled a free kick narrowly off target.
 
The hosts cranked up the pressure, with City hurriedly clearing their lines after a cross pinged dangerously around the penalty area. Chaplen angled a header off target as Fairweather's side went all out in search of an equaliser, with the former then crafting a beautiful cross from the left which Furness nodded straight at Brooks. It was Sunderland doing much of the pressing, though Laws did well to palm away a Parris effort on the breakaway.
 
Parris should have made the game safe four minutes from time after City counter attacked into the gaps left behind by the advancing hosts, but the forward blasted her shot past the angle of post and bar when clean through.
 
There was controversy with just a minute left when Mead was felled by Scott just inside the box, but the referee waved away the hosts' appeals for a penalty.
 
City held out for their first win of the campaign, twice hitting the frame of the goal in injury time as substitute Krystle Johnston fired against the woodwork before team mate Natasha Harding, completely unmarked, smashed the rebound against the top of the bar and away. 
 
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Victoria Williams, Rachel Furness, Hayley Sharp, Steph Bannon, Keira Ramshaw, Sarah McFadden, Beth Mead, Brooke Chaplen, Sophie Williams (sub Emma Kelly 45mins). Subs: Leigh Black, Kelly McDougall, Natalie Gutteridge, Vicky Greenwell, Gemma Wilson, Rebekah Bass.

Manchester City: Alex Brooks, Abbie McManus (sub Emma Lipman 82mins), Chelsea Nightingale, Kathleen Radtke, Demi Stokes, Jennifer Beattie, Jill Scott, Issy Christiansen, Sarah Wiltshire (sub Natasha Harding 60mins), Toni Duggan (sub Krystle Johnston 71mins), Nikita Parris. Sub not used: Elizabeth Seasman.

(Report by www.fawsl.com)


 
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