Sunderland Ladies go top after away win as Durham draw with Charlton
Sunderland Ladies moved to the top of the FA Women's National League after a convincing 3-1 win over Sheffield FC.
A brace from Keira Ramshaw added to an earlier strike from Katie Barker as the Lady Black Cats made it six successive wins.
Mel Reay’s side were quick out of the blocks at the Coach and Horses Ground, with Bridget Galloway and Ramshaw both forcing early saves from Sheffield stopper Elizabeth Hobson.
And a deserved breakthrough eventually came on 24 minutes, as Barker fired across goal and into the bottom corner after she was played in by Georgia Gibson.
Gibson and Jordan Atkinson then both had chances to double the advantage but were denied by the impressive Hobson as Sheffield weathered the storm.
And the hosts were indebted to their stopper as they netted an equaliser against the run of play just before the interval - Milliee Clarke slotting home from close range after a low cross.
But Sunderland would retake the lead just after the restart as Ramshaw capitalised on some sloppy defending to fire home.
And the Sunderland skipper added her second and the Lady Black Cats’ third with 25 minutes remaining as she finished off a quick counter-attack with a fine finish.
Holly Housley could have pulled one back for the hosts late on but spooned her shot over the bar as Sunderland held on to claim a vital three points which takes them top of the league.
Meanwhile, Durham Women were forced to settle for a point on home soil after a 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic.
Beth Hepple’s ferocious strike handed the Wildcats the lead, but they were pegged back immediately as Kit Graham slotted home after being gifted possession.
Emily Roberts restored the hosts’ advantage just a minute later, though, as she finished off a flowing team move.
And just as it looked as if Lee Sanders’ side would cling on to seal three points, Amelia Ritchie sent a looping header home to level things up once again.
Indeed, Durham had keeper Hannah Reid to thank late on as she made a string of fine saves to protect the point.