Player of the Year boost for Sunderland

Sarah McFadden in action Sunderland for against Durham at New Ferens Park. Picture by FRANK REID.

Sarah McFadden in action Sunderland for against Durham at New Ferens Park. Picture by FRANK REID.

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RACHEL Furness made a goalscoring return to the side as Sunderland Ladies came from behind to beat Durham Women 3-1 in a pre-season friendly.

Last season’s Player of the Year is returning to fitness after injury problems and made a welcome return as a second half substitute.

And she capped the return with a goal, rising to head past former Sunderland keeper Helen Alderson, from a Vicki Greenwell cross.

Durham made the brighter start, though, and took the lead just three minutes in.

Amelia Pereira was brought down by Hayley Sharp and Beth Hepple fired home the spot-kick past Rachael Laws. From that point, though, Sunderland dominated.

Kelly McDougall had a shot tipped over by Alderson, and Beth Mead and Keira Ramshaw noth threatened going forward.

Sunderland’s pressure finally told when Suzanne Mulvey found Ramshaw inside the area and the winger turned well and fired past Alderson.

Pereira tested Laws twice from distance in the opening minutes of the second half, but after that Durham were on the back foot.

Sunderland went ahead when Abby Holmes broke down the right, and set up Natalie Gutteridge who had a shot parried by Alderson. The ball fell to Mulvey, though, and the Scot fired into the roof of net.

Mead forced Alderson into another fine save before the win was sealed; Furness heading home.

The win completes Sunderland’s pre-season programme and they will now plan for their opening WSL1 tie away at Liverpool a week on Wednesday. Durham kick off their WSL2 campaign away to Doncaster Belles this Thursday.

SUNDERLAND: Laws, Holmes (Greenwell), Bannon, Sharp (Wilson), V Williams, McFadden, McDougall (Furness), Gutteridge (Joice), Ramshaw (Bass), Mulvey (S Williams), Mead.