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Sunderland 2 (Chaplen 46, Furness 72) Bristol Academy 1 (James 9)
Sunderland came from behind to claim their second win in three games of their first top flight season, beating Bristol Academy in Hetton.
The visitors took an early lead when Angharad James fired them in front while Beth Mead's header off the bar was as close at the hosts came in the first half. Sunderland dominated the second period from the first minute and within 30 seconds of the restart Brooke Chaplen fired Mead's cut back into the bottom corner. Rachel Furness powered home a header from a free kick with 18 minutes left to give Sunderland all three points and lift them to second place in the table.
The hosts started brightly going close twice as Mead saw a shot blocked by the legs of Mary Earps, before Keira Ramshaw saw her effort blocked a minute later.
The visitors managed to break the deadlock with their first attack of the game, as Sunderland conceded possession poorly in their own half allowing James and Nadia Lawrence to run at Steph Bannon. James chose to go herself and fired the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box.
Sunderland almost replied instantly as Victoria Williams' flick from a corner was cleared off the line, but although they had the majority of the ball the hosts laboured in attack.
That was until the last minute of the half when Ramshaw broke down the right and crossed to Mead, who leapt above Grace McCatty to fire a powerful effort over Earps and onto the bar.
Williams went close again before the break, driving the ball inches wide of the bottom corner when she was found in space eight yards from goal.
Sunderland took the restart at the beginning of the second period and immediately equalised. Mead got to the byline before cutting the ball back to Chaplen, who hit a powerful effort under the hand of Earps and into the bottom corner.
Rachael Laws' only real test of the second period came when Ramshaw's attempted clearance ballooned back on target and had to be tipped over.
Victoria Greenwell, brought on as a left sided forward, whipped in a dangerous free kick towards Furness at the back post, and, in her trademark style, the Northern Ireland international leapt highest to fire the ball powerfully across goal and into the top corner.
Mead was again denied by Earps as she danced through the Bristol defence before seeing the keeper block with her legs, but with just over ten minutes left it was almost distaster for Sunderland when Bannon slipped in possession allowing the visitors to pour forward. Hayley Sharp was not to be beaten though, with the defender covering superbly to cut out the danger.
In the final minute Earps denied Mead again with a stunning tip behind after Williams burst forward, before Bristol forced one final chance as Sophie Ingle ran forward in the dying seconds only to be denied by Abby Holmes.
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Stephanie Bannon, Hayley Sharp, Victoria Williams, Keira Ramshaw, Brooke Chaplen, Sarah McFadden (sub Kelly McDougall 81mins), Rachel Furness, Abbey Joice (sub Victoria Greenwell 68mins), Beth Mead. Subs not used: Gemma Wilson, Rebekah Bass, Emma Kelly, Alice Harkness, Natalie Gutteridge.
Bristol Academy: Mary Earps, Frankie Brown (sub Gabriella Bird 86mins), Gracie McCatty, Jaz Matthews, Loren Dykes, Angharad James, Hayley Ladd, Sophie Ingle, Nikki Watts, Nadia Lawrence, Christie Murray. Subs not used: Sharla Passariello, Alice Evans, Georgia Evans, Isobel Dalton.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by Susan Gutteridge:
(top) Victoria Williams is challenged by Angharad James
(middle) Beth Mead takes on Grace McCatty
(bottom) Rachel Furness scores the winning goal for Sunderland
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