Joice strikes gives Sunderland point at Birmingham

Abbey Joice
Abbey Joice
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Sunderland kept their WSL1 title hopes alive by fighting back to take a point at Birmingham.

The Blues, fighting to avoid the drop, led five minutes before half-time when Freda Ayisi fired in only their second home league goal of the season after being set up by Karen Carney.

But the Lady Black Cats pulled level in the 54th minute when Abbey Joice scored from close range.

Sunderland threatened early on when Rachel Furness played in Brooke Chaplen but Kerys Harrop made a good tackle.

Furness went close, not once, or twice, but three times inside two minutes.

First, a flying save by Spencer kept out her 25-yarder before the keeper tipped over her header from the resulting corner.

And from the next flag-kick her header was bundled off the line with the Lady Black Cats appealing loudly for a penalty.

It was all Sunderland and they went close again when Greenwell’s free-kick just cleared the bar.

Carney had shown up nicely with a couple of good passes and she tried her luck from distance eight minutes from half-time.

But the England star weaved her magic on 40 minutes.

She was given the freedom of the left touchline, cut in and beat Abby Holmes before pulling back the ball for AYISI to finish high past laws with her left foot.

Half-time:

Birmingham 1

Sunderland 0

Carlton Fairweather’s team make good start to the second half but final ball lett them down.

Sunderland were level in the 54th minute when Chaplen played a great ball across the six-yard box.

JOICE took a touch and then planted her right-foot finish into the net.

Sunderland had the best of the second half but could not translate possession into goals.

Joice robbed Alex Windell and teed up Mead who fired wide from edge of box

It was the start of a spell of heavy pressure from the away side but Spencer was unbeatable in the home goal, making good saves from Holmes and Mead.

Birmingham had two late chances but Mel Lawley was wide two minutes from time and Carney saw a shot from the edge of the area saved by Laws.

Deep into stoppage time Birmingham went close again and it needed an last-ditch sliding clearance from Holmes with Allen and Westwood ready to put the ball into the away net.

Full-time

BIRMINGHAM CITY 1

SUNDERLAND 1

Birmingham City: Spencer, Carter, Mannion, Harrop, Alle, Ayisi (Wellings 68), Westwood, Carney, Windell, Lawley, Linnett (Potter 76)

Subs: Baggaley, Sargeant, Edwards, Haines, Peplow

Goal: Ayisi 40

Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, T Williams, Bannon, Greenwell, Joice, McDougall, Furness, Chaplen (McFadden 83), Ramshaw (Roche 83), Mead.

Unused subs: Olsen, Wilson, Kelly

Goal: Joice 54

Referee: Shaun Barry

Attendance: 704