Boss admits Sunderland just can’t compete with likes of Chelsea

Lucy Staniforth gets the ball forward for Sunderland Ladies against Chelsea at Hetton. Picture by KEVIN BRADY

Lucy Staniforth gets the ball forward for Sunderland Ladies against Chelsea at Hetton. Picture by KEVIN BRADY

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Sometimes you just have to hold up your hands and acknowledge the superiority of the opposition.

This is one such occasion.

Sunderland Ladies were taken to the cleaners by a Chelsea side who showed just why they will be strong contenders to add the female Premier title to the big one.

The Blues were simply breathtaking at Eppleton CW’s ground, their skill, speed, athleticism and movement were all on a different plane.

Emma Hayes’s team were five up at half-time and while the Lady Black Cats changed shape for the second half, two well-taken late Fran Kirby goals added more blue gloss in the WSL1 Spring Series.

It was a tough afternoon for home head coach, Melanie Reay, who after three clean sheets in the opening three games, has now seen her team concede 11 times in the last week.

“Emma has a world class squad,” Said Reay. “We just can’t compete with those players.

“The gap between them and us is too big.”

There were a few positives for the Lady Black Cats, who must now pick trhemselves up quickly ahead of a trip to bottom club Yeovil on Sunday.

Despite picking the ball out of her net, seven times, Anke Preuss had a superb game, making five brilliant saves, including a penalty stop, to keep the score in single figures.

Abby Holmes, who came off with a dead leg, was the pick of the outfield players, while Abbey Joice was lively as a second-half sub.

But Reay was upset to see her team concede seven.

“As daft as it sounds, we set ourselves up to be hard to beat, unfortunately it didn’t work,” she said. “I might have to take responsibility for that.

“We did revert to three at the back for the second half and only lost that 2-0, that did help.

“But some of the goals we conceded just were not good enough from our perspective.

“It could have been more and Anke bailed us out a few times but we should be giving her more protection.”

Preuss’s day began so well when she dived to her left to keep out Gemma Davison’s seventh-minute penalty.

But the Black Cats in front of her could not cope with the movement of the away side – it was tiring just watching them let alone trying to stop them on the park.

Erin Cuthbert fired Chelsea ahead in the 17th minute fter a strong run from Maren Mjelde.

Karen Carney showed good control and finishing to make it two on the half-hour, the first of four goals inside 15 minutes.

Mjelde made it three before sub Ramona Bachmann and Cuthbert finished well, with the aid of the uprights.

The second half was much better from the Cats, Joice looking good up front. A great Steph Roche cross deserved better than a corner, as did a storming run and shot by Lucy Staniforth, ex-Sunderland keeper Carly Telford making a fantastic save.

The hosts could not find the net, but Kirby could to take the score to seven.

Sunderland: Preuss, Holmes (Brown 84), Bannon, Sharp, Williams, Roche, Bruinenberg, Staniforth, Hill, Lambert (Joice 46), Ramshaw (Leon 70). Unused subs: Olsen, Pattinson, Galloway, Gibson

Booked: Holmes

Chelsea: Telford, Flaherty, Cooper, Fahey, Ji, Mjelde, Davison, Carney, Cuthbert, England (Dunn 57), Aluko (Bachmann 14, Kirby 57)

Goals: Cuthbert 17, 44; Mjelde 34; Bachmann 41; Kirby 80, 86.

Referee: Lucy Oliver. Attendance: 775