HEAD coach Claire Robinson credited the way her Sunderland Ladies responded after going down to 10 players as they ended their FA Women’s Super League Continental Cup campaign with defeat to Everton.
Nikita Parris lashed home from 12 yards just before the break and Lauren Davies sealed the 14 minutes from time, with Abby Holmes seeing red in between for two quick bookings at Eppleton CW.
Robinson said: “Defensively, I couldn’t have asked any more of the girls. I’m happy enough that there were some chances and that we could have went on and won the game.
“Sometimes the girls don’t need too much encouragement to improve. At half-time, we just needed a bit of guidance and reorganisation going 4-4-1.
“After that, it’s just pinning down a little bit of detail to show how when we haven’t got the ball, when we then get on the ball, how can we then be positive and constructive about that.”
The first 20 minutes were open, although neither side created many clear chances, with Beth Mead firing narrowly wide for Sunderland after a pin-point cross from Sophie Williams.
The game sprung into action 10 minutes before half-time however, as first Everton opened the scoring, with the impressive Parris striking home from 12 yards on 36 minutes.
And just before half-time full-back Holmes was sent off after two yellows in succession – the first for kicking the ball at an Everton player and the second for a trip on Parris.
Despite being a player down, Sunderland improved in the second half.
Early on, Mead found Sophie Williams on the edge of the box, but she fired wide. Then Williams was set free down the left by Rachel Furness, but she slipped in the act of shooting and Walsh easily gathered.
Mead nearly equalised after Furness broke down the left, cutting the ball back to Mead inside the area. She beat two Everton defenders before unleashing a powerful shot which Walsh just turned wide.
However, Davies leapt off the bench for Everton and sealed the game with 14 minutes left on the clock – her effort a beautifully struck curling shot from 25 yards.
Sunderland responded as Furness again fed Williams inside the box, with Walsh again saving.
Everton captain Michelle Hinnigan enthused: “It is great kicking on from the win last week against Doncaster. It’s great to get the win for the second game running.
“It was a great team performance overall and good to get two different scorers on the scoresheet.
“I wasn’t close the second incident for the sending off so I can’t really comment. The first one, she should have been booked for it.
“I think we found it more difficult playing against 10 players. I think we played better against 11 players than 10.”
Sunderland will look to get back to winning ways this Saturday night when they visit title rivals Doncaster Rovers Belles in a crucial, top-of-the-table WSL2 match.
SUNDERLAND: Laws, Holmes, Greenwell, Bannon, Sharp, Williams, Furness (Briggs 86), McDougall, Kelly (Beer 46), Ramshaw, Mead (Bass 72). Sub not used: McHugh.
EVERTON: Walsh, V Jones, Greenwood (Kane), Chaplen (Davies 71), Whelan, Johnson, Hinnigan, Parris (Williams 51), Magill, K Jones, M Turner. Subs not used: Brown-Finnis, Kane, Whipp, George. Goals: Parris 36, Davies 76.
H The FA Women’s Super League has been newly expanded to two leagues for 2014. To watch all 18 clubs live in action buy tickets here: http://www.ticketstores.co.uk/fawsl