Sunderland Ladies left it late to snatch a dramatic 2-1 victory at Durham Women in the first Continental Tyres Cup group game.
The battling home side looked to have grabbed a point when skipper Sarah Wilson blasted in from close range five minutes from time to cancel out Keira Ramshaw’s opener.
Ultimately it was good to start the cup with the win, but I can’t praise Durham enough for the way they playeCARLTON FAIRWEATHER
But 46 seconds into time added on, Durham keeper Anna Moorhouse could not keep out a wicked inswinging Vicky Greenwell corner from the right.
It was harsh on the goalie who had made a number of saves throughout the first match in this northern group.
But for the Lady Black Cats, the keeper’s OG gave them a winning start in the competition and extended their winning sequence to three games following the mid-season break. Head coach Carlton Fairweather said: “Durham are a good side and their position in WSL2 probably doesn’t reflect their ability, but we made hard work of it.
“Ultimately it was good to start the cup with the win, but I can’t praise Durham enough for the way they played.”
It wasn’t quite a case of ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’ though it was never going to be straight forward for Sunderland after the euphoria of a 4-0 rout of Chelsea.
Fairweather made four changes in order to give starts to a number of his squad and he made the – wise – decision to give Saturday’s hero, Beth Mead, a breather on the bench.
Changing a third of the side, the absence of Mead, and a tremendous effort from Durham were all telling factors which made this a tight affair in front of a 793 crowd at Ferens Park.
After a fairly lifeless first 75 minutes, all the excitement was crammed into a breathless last quarter of an hour.
Sunderland had had the better of play but it took the 68th-minute introduction of Mead to provide the spark and Fairweather’s final sub teed up Ramshaw just inside the home area. The winger, arguably the pick of the side on the night, finished emphatically from 15 yards, her left-footer going into Moorhouse’s right-hand corner.
Durham went within a whisker of an 82nd-minute leveller when ex-Sunderland forward Natalie Gutteridge hit the outside of Hilde Olsen’s left-hand post with the Norwegian beaten.
But the Wildcats equalised five minutes from time following their second corner of the half, Wilson blasting high into Olsen’s net after Sunderland could not clear a scramble.
Greenwell and Sunderland though had the final say in stoppage time to make sure there was not let up to their golden run.
Durham Women: Moorhouse, Jennings, Havelock (White 82), Nelson, S Wilson, Macek, Hepple, Gutteridge, Gears, Corrie, Atkinson.
Subs (not used): Alderson, Linsley
Sunderland Ladies: Olsen, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Ramshaw, McFadden, Furness (McDougall 46), Kelly (Mead 68), Joice (Chaplen 58), Roche. Subs (not used): Laws, Sharp, Williams
Goals: Ramshaw 76, Wilson 85, Moorhouse OG 90
Referee: Matthew Diccio. Attendance: 793