TWO goals from Beth Mead saw Sunderland reinforce their lead at the top of Women’s Super League 2, though they had to come from behind against mid-table Aston Villa to do so.
The league leaders, Sunderland dominated the early play at Eppleton CW, but Villa went ahead on the half-hour when Sarah Mayling’s free-kick from the left was headed on by Jade Richards and nodded in from the edge of the six-yard box by Dani Petrovic.
It took the home side just eight minutes to level though. England Under-20 striker Mead was played through and, although Caitlin Leach did well to parry the striker’s fierce shot, Mead continued her run and smashed the loose ball home.
And, shortly before half-time, Sunderland took the lead when Mead played in Abbey Joice who seized on the defence-splitting ball and slotted coolly around Leach.
Villa might have equalised on the stroke of half-time, when Emma Follis went clean through but Rachael Laws dived brilliantly to preserve Sunderland’s lead.
The second half was a nervy affair for the home side who increasingly came under pressure, but Mead finally made it safe in the 89th-minute, when she cut in from the right and drove a low shot into the corner.
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes (Beer 46), Greenwell, Bannon, Sharp, Furness, McDougall, Joice, Ramshaw (Williams 82), Bass, Mead.
Subs not used: Alderson, Wilson, McCubbin. Booking: Holmes (28).
Aston Villa (4-3-3): Leach, Crackle (Davies 82), Jones, McCue, Petrovic (C), Richards, Follis, N’Dow, Wilkinson, Mayling (Walker 64), Robinson.
Subs not used: Cooper, Baker, Ferguson, Harper.
Ref: P. Davidson