SUNDERLAND Women shrugged off their rustiness to finally complete their FA Women’s Premier League Cup section yesterday.
Mick Mulhern’s side were already guaranteed a place in the knockout stage, but a double from Keira Ramshaw kept up Sunderland’s unbeaten season in a 2-2 draw at Nottingham Forest.
Manager Mulhern admitted: “We were a little rusty after a few weeks off, which is understandable, but there were several positives.
“Firstly, we kept on going on a pitch that was heavy on the legs. Also, Keira took her goals well and there was a debut for 16-year-old Abby Joyce, who did very well.
“Most important of all, the undefeated run continues.”
Forest started brightly, but Sunderland went close when Beth Mead fired Ramshaw’s cross just over the bar.
Jordan Atkinson then just failed to get on the end of a Mead centre, while a timely Becky Salicki and a good save by keeper Rachael Laws kept the hosts at bay.
Rachel Furness and Atkinson went close for Sunderland, before the visitors finally grabbed the lead when Ramshaw headed home following a goalmouth scramble.
Natasha Meade’s 20-yarder left Laws helpless as Forest levelled on 55 minutes, but Sunderland were soon back in front, when Steph Bannon’s floated free-kick was only partially cleared and Ramshaw fired an unstoppable volley into the top corner.
Natalie Gutteridge had a header ruled out for offside, before sub Joyce’s great first touch helped Ramshaw to get in a shot which ended just wide.
Laws brilliantly saved from Amber Hughes to preserve the lead, but Forest broke to equalise five minutes from time, with Hughes producing a great strike.
Ramshaw scraped the bar as a hat-trick eluded her in the final seconds.
SUNDERLAND: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Salicki, Greenwell, McDougall, Furness, Gutteridge, Ramshaw, Atkinson (Joyce), Mead. Sub: Wilson.