Sunderland Ladies gave their season a massive kick-start with a resounding 4-0 win against Doncaster Rovers Belles tonight.
It was a battle between the bottom two of WSL1, and the Lady Black Cats signalled their resolve to avoid relegation with an excellent and vital win.
The victory moves Sunderland six points clear of Doncaster, who remain pointless after five games.
Importantly, it broke Sunderland’s run without a league won, which had reached 13 games.
Doncaster’s cause was not helped by a 23rd minute dismissal for Leandra Little, who felled Sunderland striker Beth Mead who was racing through on goal.
Sunderland emphatically pressed home their advantage after several near misses.
Mead opened the scoring on 34 minutes when she turned in a cross from Maddie Hill.
It was 2-0 four minutes later when Hayley Sharp headed home a Stephanie Roche corner, and two minutes into first half injury time, Mead curled in a lovely shot into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Early in the second half, Mead had to be stretchered off after being barged in the back but she was up on her feet and feeling fine before the end of the game.
Some impetues went out of the play in the second half, but Sunderland continued to create chances.
The only one taken was by Brooke Chaplen, who fired into the top corner after being played through on 78 minutes.
Sunderland Ladies: Laws, Holmes, Brown (Bannon 65), Sharp, Williams, Furness, Staniforth, Hill, Chaplen, Mead (Joice 54), Roche (McDougall 80). Subs not used: Olsen, Beer, Potts.
Doncaster Rovers Belles: Hobbs, Pacheco, Little, Roberts, Newborough (Bakowska-Mathews 46), Simpkins, Tierney, Cresswell (Smith 65), Barker, Sigsworth, Humphrey (Lipka 35). Substitutes not used: Moorhouse, Mosby, Murray.
Referee: Helen Connelly