Beth Mead’s hat-trick for Sunderland helps sink Chelsea 4-0

Sunderland Ladies in action
Sunderland Ladies in action
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A stunning hat-trick by Beth Mead helped Sunderland Ladies beat league leaders Chelsea 4-0 in front of a bumper crowd.

The Women’s Super League One tie first-half was a tight affair, with little to separate the sides, but it burst into life after the break.

And the Londoners simply couldn’t cope with Mead’s relentless drive and enthusiasm.

Her three finishes were all expertly taken as Sunderland closed the gap on the leaders to just two points.

Abby Holmes added a fourth late on.

The Lady Black Cats, fresh from their dramatic 2-1 victory over Notts County last Sunday, started strongly against league leaders Chelsea Ladies at the Eppleton CW ground.

Chelsea, favourites to lift the Women’s Super League One title, were pressed back with Stephanie Roche’s volley for Sunderland the best chance either side could manage in the opening stages.

Going into the game the leaders were unbeaten and five points clear at the top - conceding just three goals.

And the Londoners brought an international-laden squad with England’s World Cup stars Katie Chapman and Eniola Aluko in the starting line-up plus Korean superstar Ji So-Yun.

Record signing Fran Kirby had to make do with a place on the bench.

Beth Mead, full or running, was causing a nuisance for the hosts but it was the visitors that almost took the lead in the 17th minute.

Gemma Davison cutting inside before unleashing a low strike, palmed round the post by Hilde Gunn Olsen.

Sunderland continued to press, as Chelsea’s Hannah Blundell was booked for a late challenge on Roche.

Captain Steph Bannon almost gave the hosts the lead with a cheeky lob from 18-yards but Hedvig Lindahl was equal to it.

Five minutes before the break, Sunderland worked a good opening, Kelly McDougall playing the ball over the top for Mead to chase.

Mead cut inside, twisting and turning inside the area, but couldn’t find the killer pass to strike partner Roche in the middle.

Half-Time: Sunderland AFC Ladies 0 Chelsea Ladies 0

It was an entertaining start to the second half, Ji So Yun’s free-kick saw Gunn Olsen scramble across goal to pull-off a comfortable save in the end.

Almost immediately up the other end, Brooke Chaplen found a pocket of space but fired her shot high towards the Hetton Centre - to groans around the ground.

Chaplen went closer moments later, her deflected shot gathered by Lindahl.

Sunderland were soon in dreamland though, thanks to two goals in five minutes from in-form Mead.

A mix-up at the heart of the Chelsea defence saw Mead clean through in the 54th minute and she made no mistake, picking her spot low in the left-hand corner.

Then, in the 57nd minute, it was 2-0.

A similar mistake by the league leaders saw Mead again capitalise, this time from the left-hand side of the area.

Holmes was then booked for a late challenge, which angered Chelsea striker Aluko.

It was 3-0 in the 72nd minute, Mead knocking the ball in on the line after it had been flicked onto the post.

It was a stunning 20 minute spell for the hosts and Mead almost notched her fourth, her 25-yard strike forcing Lindahl into a safe at full-stretch.

Holmes added a fortunate fourth late on, her cross looped into the far corner of the net to cap a remarkable night.

Full-time: Sunderland AFC Ladies 4 Chelsea Ladies 0

Sunderland (4-4-2): Gunn Olsen, Holmes, Bannon (C), Greenwell, Furness, Chaplen (McFadden, 72), Ramshaw (Kelly, 85), Roche (Joyce, 72), Mead, McDougall, Williams.

Subs not used: Wilson, Sharp.

Goal: Mead (54, 57, 72), Holmes (83)

Bookings: Holmes (66)

Red cards:

Chelsea (4-4-1-1): Lindahl, Blundell (Banusic, 54), Bright (Spence, 56), Flaherty, Fahey, Davison, Rafferty, Borges, Chapman (C), So Yun, Aluko (Farrow, 72).

Subs not used: Houran, Kirby, Meiwald, Rafferty.

Bookings: Blundell (31), Chapman, (60)

Red cards:

Attendance: 1,004

Referee: S. Hudson