BETH Mead’s leaping header was enough to ensure that Sunderland maintained their 100 per cent start to their FA Women’s Super League Two campaign.
Mead scored in first-half stoppage time to see off a dogged London Bees side, though the win was overshadowed by a potentially serious ankle injury to fellow striker Abbey Joice.
Sunderland were on top from the off and Abby Holmes went closest early on, shooting over on 12 minutes after exchanging passes with Mead on the right.
Rachel Furness headed wide from a corner before also clearing the bar with a shot.
Keira Ramshaw also had a close-range shot blocked as the hosts laid siege to the Bees’ goal.
Visiting keeper Cherie Rowlands was in top form, getting down well to turn a Mead shot around the post on the half hour after good chasing from Emma Kally had set up the chance,
Rowlands was almost single-handedly denying Sunderland, though some poor finishing also kept the scores level.
A great chance fell to Joice on the stroke of half-time, after being found with a square ball from Kelly McDougall, but the young forward shot weakly straight at Rowlands.
The keeper must have thought she had kept her side level throughout the half, only to be beaten finally in stoppage time.
McDougall attacked down the left and sent over a lovely cross and Mead got in front of her marker to jemp and head firmly into the corner,
The Lady Black Cats’ momentum was halted shortly after the break when Joice was stretchered off following a lengthy delay.
Rachel Furness nearly doubled their lead on 69 minutes though, her powerful first-time strike from 18 yards forcing Rowlands to turn wide at full stretch.
McDougall went even closer 10 minutes later, her rising 20-yard effort clattering the bar and bouncing clear.
The scoreline could easily have been much greater, though the Bees offered next to nothing going forward and they only threatened the home goal once with a shot over the bar after a quick break.
Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Greenwell, Kelly (Sharp 89), McDougall, Furness, Joice (Bass 55), Mead, Ramshaw. Subs not used: Alderson, Beer, McHugh.
London Bees: Rowlands; Chappell, Herson (Miller 29), Brooks, Davies; Goss, O’Leary, Hurley, Mallett, Lawrence; Hinchcliffe (Loomes 72).
H The FA Women’s Super League has been newly expanded to two leagues for 2014. To watch all 18 clubs live in action buy tickets here: http://www.ticketstores.co.uk/fawsl