SUNDERLAND completed a league double over Springfield UCLAN to make it successive wins in the England Hockey League’s Conference North.
Gemma Whitworth’s side are aiming for a third-place finish, and they twice survived fightbacks from their Preston-based opponents to claim a thrilling late win at Meadowfield Sports Centre.
Michelle Simpson needed just three minutes to make the breakthrough as Sunderland looked to follow up a 4-1 away win earlier in the season, but Hanah Minto quickly levelled.
Charlotte Marwood restored the home side’s advantage before half-time, and Simpson looked to have clinched the points with a third on 53 minutes.
But Springfield rallied strongly to level with two goals in a minute from Emma Nokes and Abi Dean.
Sunderland, though, proved their resilience by snatching a dramatic winner three minutes from time, with Joss Plummer on target.
Sunderland visit Beeston on Sunday (noon) in their penultimate match of the season
Durham University firsts are three points behind Sunderland in fourth place, going into Sunday’s tricky Maiden Castle clash with title-chasing Loughborough Students (1.30pm).
Libby Sherriff’s side, though, are in good spirits after a fourth straight league win, 4-1 at Wakefield Bradford.
Harriet Moore stole the show for Durham with a brilliant hat-trick, which included a first-minute opener, taking her season’s tally to 11, with Cherry Seaborn also netting – her ninth of the campaign.
H Boldon-based Broom, pipped 4-3 in a thriller by City of York last week, visit bottom club Wigan on Saturday (3pm) in the North League First Division.