Abbey Joice rescues point for Sunderland Women against Sheffield United

Abbey Joice’s second goal in as many games rescued a point for Sunderland Women at home to Sheffield United.
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The midfielder struck midway through the second half to cancel out Mia Enderby’s 20th minute opener in a game largely dominated by the Blades.

The visitors – hoping to secure their own place in the Championship next season – had the majority of possession in the opening stages and were denied by the woodwork in the fifth minute.

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Good work by Alethea Paul forced a corner which was swung in by Sophie Barker and rebounded off the bar at the near post. Sunderland’s quick break was then stopped in its tracks by Naomi Hartley who was booked for a foul on Emily Scarr.

Sunderland Women in action. Picture by Kasey Taylor and Sunderland AFCSunderland Women in action. Picture by Kasey Taylor and Sunderland AFC
Sunderland Women in action. Picture by Kasey Taylor and Sunderland AFC

United were finding success down the flanks, Bex Raynor running on to Enderby’s low cross from the right but then straight into Brianna Westrup who bravely threw herself into harm’s way to block a strike at goal.

Three minutes later, Raynor and Enderby combined to open the scoring – the latter running on to an inch-perfect through ball and calmly slotting past Claudia Moan.

Sunderland slowly fought their way back into the game and almost equalised through Jessica Brown’s close-range header which was well-held by Fran Stenson.

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On the half hour her opposite number was called on to stop Enderby scoring her second at the near post after the winger’s superb footwork created space in the box to get a shot away.

Looking to step up their attacking threat after the break, Jessica Brown made way for Liz Ejupi, and the move almost paid off immediately as the Kosovo forward released Scarr who scuffed her strike across goal.

At the other end, Moan pulled off an incredible double save to first palm away Rayner’s powerful drive after the forward hit the post, then moving like lightning across her line to deny Enderby.

After Sweetman-Kirk had a goal ruled out for offside, Sunderland’s equalised. With 20 minutes remaining, Ejupi held off her attacker and played the ball forward to Joice who beat the offside trap and levelled the score with a simple finish.

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Sunderland: Moan; Beer, Herron, Westrup, Morgan; Kelly (c), Danielle Brown, Joice, Jessica Brown (Ejupi 46’), Watson; Scarr.

Substitutes: Cowling, Borthwick, Ede, McInnes, McCatty, McPartlan, Thompson, Mallaburn.