GOALS from Sarah McFadden and Keira Ramshaw secured a third successive Premier League title for Sunderland at Eppleton CW yesterday.
Knowing a win would be enough to seal the championship with a game to spare, the Lady Black Cats got off to a perfect start with a goal in the second minute.
The lead might have come even earlier after a cross from Ramshaw was hooked goalwards by Beth Mead only for Cardiff keeper Rhian Nokes to make a good stop.
Nokes was soon picking the ball out of the back of the net, though.
Good link-up play between Abbey Joice, Kelly McDougall and Ramshaw ended with the ball in the boss and controlled well to turn and strike into the bottom corner.
At the other end, Cardiff won a corner and Louise Hutton outjumped the home defence but her header was comfortably held by Rachael Laws.
A break down the left saw Mead beat her marker and swing the ball over for Sophie Williams to cut inside and shoot narrowly beyond the post.
A Steph Bannon free-kick caused problems in the visiting defence as a McFadden header was turned away.
Then Ramshaw played in Mead, who brought a save from Nokes before Williams broke down the left to cross for Ramshaw to head back across goal where Joice could get no power into her shot.
Williams then won a crunching challenge in the middle and made ground along the left but her cross was just missed by Mead as she threw herself forward in front of goal.
A quick break by the visitors saw Kelly Isaac try her luck from 20 yards but her shot went wide of the post.
Good play between Cardiff’s Smith and Stewart created space for Aldridge, but again Laws was not troubled by the shot.
The second half began with McFadden playing a great ball over to Williams on the left. She found Ramshaw, but again the shot was off target.
Williams’ pace then took her through but Nokes pulled off a fine save.
Gemma Wilson and skipper Bannon combined well to break up a Cardiff attack and as Vicki Greenwell brought the ball away down the left, her fine cross was met by Mead but her shot was blocked.
Greenwell again made progress down the left and her cross found Mead, who hit a cracking shot thet flew agonisingly wide.
Cardiff were making a fight of it and won a free-kick in a dangerous position but Lauren Townsend’s effort went over the wall and just cleared the bar.
A second goal finally arrived in the 63rd minute. McFadden release Mead down the left and the top scorer closed in on goal. Her effort was parried by Nokes, but Ramshaw was on hand to turn well and hit the ball home, much to the delight of the crowd.
Cardiff’s heads did not drop though and Stewart hit a superb free-kick from 30 yards that crashed against the post before being bundled clear.
Then a Wilson tackle was picked up by Bannon, who played in the overlapping Abby Holmes to carry the ball almost the length of the field before crossing for Mead, but Jones was on hand to clear the danger.
Mead again went close as sub Jordan Atkinson created space, but Nokes saved well with her feet.
It did not matter, though, as the referee soon blew for full-time to seal the Wearsiders’ title success.
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Ramshaw, McFadden (Furness), McDougall, Joice, Williams (Atkinson), Mead. Subs (not used): Alderson, Salicki, Beer, Christon, Kelly.