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Sunderland 3 (Mead 1, Chaplen 32, Greenwell 45) Birmingham City 0
Sunderland bagged three first half goals in a clinical display on their way to a confident 3-0 victory over Birmingham City at Eppleton CW.
Sunderland's dream start came courtesy of Mead, who was a constant threat throughout. The striker was played in after an inch perfect through ball from Rachel Furness, and the striker made no mistake, marking her birthday by confidently slotting the ball into the lower right hand corner of Sophie Baggaley's goal.
The Blues wasted a golden opportunity to go level just five minutes after Mead's opener. Freda Ayisi chased down and stole the ball from Victoria Williams to go one-on-one with Laws, however she dragged her finish just wide of the post. The visitors came close again a quarter of an hour into the match. Kirsty Linnett's deflected effort flashed across the six yard box, with Jade Moore just unable to reach the ball at full stretch.
Sunderland doubled their advantage half an hour later with Mead again at the forefront, showing great determination to disposses Kerys Harrop. Baring down on goal, she slipped just as she was about to pull the trigger, yet was still able to square the ball to Brooke Chaplen, who drilled the ball home from 12 yards.
The Black Cats almost had their third a minute before the interval. A neat passing move saw Abbey Joice put through on goal, with the winger putting her shot just past the left hand post.
However, they wouldn't be denied just moments later. Vicki Greenwell's superbly placed 25-yard free kick clipped the inside of Baggeley's post before nestling in the net, leaving the keeper with no chance.
After the break, the visitors continued to search for a route back into the game. Kirsty Linnett headed straight into Laws' hands after a good run and cross from Jade Moore before Kerys Harrop saw her neat front post flick cleared off the line. Sunderland, though, almost had a fourth when Furness again set Mead free before the striker flashed her effort wide.
The rest of the game saw little in the way of goalmouth action, with Sunderland happy to consolidate their lead. Coral Haines went closest for the visitors with an acrobatic overhead kick in injury time, but saw her effort fly over Laws' crossbar.
Sunderland, though, were able to secure a comfortable win and all three points, giving the team a morale boost ahead of the mid-season break.
Sunderland: Rachael Laws, Abby Holmes, Victoria Williams, Hayley Sharp, Vicky Greenwell, Abbey Joice (sub Emma Kelly 68mins), Kelly McDougall, Rachel Furness, Brooke Chaplen (sub Natalie Gutteridge 82mins), Keira Ramshaw (sub Rebekah Bass 89mins), Beth Mead. Subs not used: Alice Harkness, Gemma Wilson, Sarah McFadden, Madelaine Hill.
Birmingham City: Sophie Baggaley, Emily Westwood, Aoife Mannion, Kerys Harrop, Jess Carter, Jade Moore (sub Alex Windell 86mins), Jo Potter, Karen Carney (sub Coral Haines 74mins), Kirsty Linnett (sub Remi Allen 76mins), Freda Ayisi, Melissa Lawley. Subs not used: Cristina Torkildsen, Chelsea Weston.
(Report by www.fawsl.com)
Photos by Susan Gutteridge:
(top) Jess Carter chased by Keira Ramshaw
(bottom) Abbey Joice controls under pressure from Aoife Mannion
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