Sunderland Ladies unbeaten run halted by Derby as Durham stun Manchester United
Sunderland Ladies have seen their six-game winning run brought to a halt by Derby County.
The Lady Black Cats moved to the top of the FA Women's National League Northern Division with a 3-1 triumph at Sheffield FC last weekend, but were narrowly beaten by the Rams in their latest league outing as Nichole Ledgister netted the decisive goal.
Mel Reay had a strong squad at her disposal for the trip to Mickleover, and indeed it was Sunderland who started on the front foot.
Captain Keira Ramshaw flashed a shot just wide of the post before Georgia Gibson saw her long-range effort clip the bar.
In a positive first half performance, Katie Barker and Grace McCatty also came close to opening the scoring but were denied by some valiant defending from the hosts.
And the Rams started to create some chances of their own as the half drew to a close - Ledgister denied by Sunderland stopper Sophy Stonehouse while Liv Mitcham saw a goalbound effort heroically blocked by Mollie Lambert.
Derby continued to push forward after the interval and took the lead just after the hour mark.
It was the lively Ledgister who netted, firing home from inside the area after Sunderland had failed to convincingly clear a corner.
Some attacking substitutions from Reay sparked the Wearsiders back into life, and Ramshaw arguably should have levelled the scores after she was teed up by Atkinson - the skipper firing straight at the Derby stopper in what proved to be a decisive miss.
There were several half-chances late on, but Derby held firm to secure victory and end Sunderland's fine form of late.
The Lady Black Cats will be looking to bounce back when they travel to newly-promoted Hull City next weekend.
Meanwhile, Durham Women produced one of the most eye-catching results of the day as they held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw.
United dominated proceedings but found Durham keeper Hannah Reid in inspired form with the Scottish international making a string of fine saves to keep the Red Devils at bay.
All her work looked to be in vein late on when Abby Holmes conceded a penalty, but Reid denied United's Katie Zelem from the spot to stun the hosts and secure a hard-fought point for Durham.