Doncaster Rovers Belles 1 Sunderland Ladies 4: Match report
The Lady Black Cats did it the hard way, coming back from a goal down to do the double over their rivals in convincing fashion.
Sunderland are now nine points above the Belles who still have three games in hand, but it would take something drastic now for Sunderland to go down.
Carlton Fairweather's side had unlikely goal heroes - full-back's Tori Williams and Abby Holmes, with veteran midfielder Kelly McDougall adding the third and sub Madelaine Hill number four.
Williams inadvertently had a hand in the opening goal - for former club Rovers in the ninth minute.
The Doncaster-born defender headed Sophie Barker's cross against her own bar which allowed MAZ PACHECO to tap in the rebound from a yard out.
It was a blow to the Lady Black Cats who had started well.
But Sunderland levelled in the 34th minute through WILLIAMS. Beth Mead showed superb skill to flick the ball over her marker's head and threaded the ball through to the right-back who tucked away her shot nicely from 12 yards.
And HOLMES showed what her fellow defender could do she could too.
The left-back cut in from the flank before letting fly with her shot deflecting off a defender and looping over Nicola Hobbs.
Rachael Laws needed to be at her best after the re-start, tipping over Sam Tierney's dipping long-ranger.
Sunderland should have extended their lead in the 57th minute when Mead was clear on goal but put her shot inches wide of the keeper's left stick.
Mead failed with another gilt-edged chance in the 68th minute. Barker was penalised for handball only for Hobbs to dive low to her left to turn Mead's spot-kick out for a corner.
But from Steph Roche's corner, Sunderland made it 3-1, KELLY McDOUGALL smashing in a close range shot high into the net.
And Sunderland were not finished, adding a fourth 10 minutes from time. HILL had only been on the pitch seconds but showed skill and composure in the area before shooting into Hobbs's left corner.
It was a fine night's work for the Wearsiders who were missing two key players with injuries, Rachel Furness (ankle) and Brooke Chaplen (knee)
DONCASTER ROVERS 1
Doncaster: Hobbs; Barker, Little, Roberts, Pacheco; Simpkins (Rayner 58), Tierney, Lipka, Humphrey; Omarsdottir (Bakowska-Mathews 77), Murray (Cresswell 84).
Unused subs: Moorhouse, Newborough, O'Donnell
Goal: Pacheco 15
Sunderland:Laws, Williams, Bannon, Sharp, Holmes, McDougall, Staniforth, Roche (Hill 79), Ramshaw (Kelly 87), Joice (Brown 71), Mead
Unused subs: Olsen, Beer, Potts, Leon
Goals: Williams 34: Holmes 39, McDougall 69, Hill 80
Referee: R Wooton