SUNDERLAND kicked off their FA Women’s Super League Continental Cup Group Two campaign with a comfortable derby victory over Durham last night.
Abbey Joice opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, before Beth Mead and a Lauren Jordinson own goal saw Sunderland to their fourth straight win in all competitions.
It could have been much worse for Durham, with the hosts twice hitting the woodwork and going close after wave after wave of attacks.
The visitors started well and had the chance to open the scoring, but Jess Round shot well over on nine minutes after being set up by Zoe Ness.
Sunderland were soon into their stride, though, and it was a surprise that the opening goal took so long to arrive.
Captain Steph Bannon’s stooping header crashed against the bar and bounced clear on 18 minutes before Danielle Hill saved from Mead and Keira Ramshaw in quick succession.
Kelly McDougall was next to test Hill, her dipping left-footed half-volley being pushed clear on 37 minutes, before the Durham keeper tipped Vicki Greenwell’s free-kick over two minutes later.
The deadlock was finally broken in first-half stoppage time. Joice timed her run to perfection to take Bannon’s long ball in her stride, letting the ball bounce before lobbing Hill.
Mead doubled the lead five minutes into the second half, running on to McDougall’s header and slotting coolly into the bottom corner, though there was a strong suspicion of offside.
Mead could have had another goal on 70 minutes, but her low 20-yard strike hit the post with Hill beaten.
Durham were now pegged back as the hosts relentlessly poured forward.
Bannon was always a danger from set-pieces and must be wondering how she did not get her name on the scoresheet.
Right-back Abby Holmes also stormed forward at every opportunity, but slipped when well placed and fired wide, But Jordinson turned the ball into her own net in stoppage time to give the scoreline a more realistic look.
“It was a comfortable win,” said Sunderland head coach Claire Robinson. “I’m happy with the performance. We still could have had a few more goals too, but the chances are coming and that’s the pleasing thing.
“We’ve been able to rotate the players too, and brought some young players through. e need to keep an eye on the squad.
“We have a starting XI, but it’s important to give the squad players a chance and keep that winning mentality going forward.”
Durham keeper Hill admitted she and her teammates only had themselves to blame for the defeat.
“I think it was more pleasing that despite missing players we have been able to frustrate Sunderland until the end of the first half. Even then, it was one of our mistakes which has led to the goal,” she said.
“To be honest, I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game. They attacked more than us, but we had a plan and that was to stop them. Obviously conceding three goals is not the best, but again we’ll build on this.”
SUNDERLAND: Alderson. Holmes. Bannon. Wilson. Greenwell. McDougall. Furness. Joice. Ramshaw (Bass). Kelly. Mead. Subs not used: Laws. Beer. McHugh. Dodds
DURHAM: Hill; Christon (Jennings 86), Jordinson, Bradley, Hanratty; Round (Hardy 77); Hepple, Jennings, Linsley, Ness; Crooks (Atkinson 74). Subs not used: Luther, White.
H The FA Women’s Super League has been newly expanded to two leagues. To watch all 18 clubs live in action buy tickets here: http://www.ticketstores.co.uk/fawsl