SUNDERLAND firsts kicked off the new year in style with a first away victory of the season.
The Ashbrooke outfit edged a 2-1 success at Leeds University seconds, hanging on determinedly to win.
The Wearsiders face an away double header this weekend, visiting second-top Lincoln Roses on Saturday (1.45pm) and bottom club Wakefield on Sunday (1.30pm).
On a wet and windy afternoon in Leeds, Sunderland had the first opportunity, with skipper Matt Dench’s shot deflected wide.
Sunderland continued to dominate and grabbed a deserved opener.
Nick Campbell fed Dench on the penalty spot and though his shot was well saved, Craig Togher was on hand to knock the ball over the line.
Duncan Stevens twice got one on one with the keeper as Sunderland pressed for a second, but he was forced wide both times.
The visitors, though, stormed two up right on half-time.
Dench carried the ball to the right edge of the Leeds D before squaring to Campbell, whose powerful, first-time shot seemed to catch the keeper off-balance.
Leeds hit back in the second half with Sunderland up against a strong headwind, but tremendous defending kept the students at bay.
Leeds pulled one back, firing a short corner into the top of the net, but even substituting their keeper for an attacker in the closing stages proved not to be enough as Sunderland showed outstanding resilience to see out the game.
Sunderland seconds picked up a rare point in a 2-2 draw with Newcastle University thirds last weekend, but they remain bottom of the table.
On Saturday, they host Richmond firsts at the Raich Carter Centre (1.45pm).
Sunderland thirds travelled south with just 10 men and Redcar firsts duly cruised to a 6-0 win, though the never-say-die Wearsiders gave everything in a valiant performance.
The sides were evenly matched for much of the match, but the Teessiders capitalising on a tiring Sunderland side to score a string of killer late goals.
Makeshift centre forward Glen Olsen was Sunderland’s man of the match, filling in at the last minute despite an injury.
He caused panic in Redcar’s defence with his skill, control and passing, linking particularly well with impressive midfielder Tom Grant.
Veteran Robin Wilson and Mark Fife battled well, while keeper Danny Greenwood made some cracking saves and Jim Gardner produced some crucial, last-gasp tackles.
The thirds visit table-topping Marton Furness in Intermediate 2 on Saturday (noon).
H Broom are up to ninth in the North Women’s League First Division, after despatching bottom club Crewe Vagrants 3-0 at the Raich Carter Centre.
Anne Blissett’s side – now up to ninth place – are away to Leeds University on Saturday (noon).