Sunderland Ladies captain Lucy Staniforth was left disappointed by today’s 3-0 FA WSL1 defeat to Arsenal at Boreham Wood.
Vivanne Miedema and captain Jordan Nobbs both scored unstoppable curling goals for the Gunners – under new manager Joe Montemurro – after Louise Quinn nodded Arsenal in front, with all three goals coming in the second half.
“To be honest, I don’t think we deserved to lose by three goals to none,” said Staniforth.
“In open play, we definitely matched them and we defended well.
“We also had our bodies on the line, as well as creating chances.
“We’re very disappointed to have conceded from three set pieces, and the third one I don’t think was a free-kick.
“The referee said it was a hand ball, but the defender’s arms were by her side.
“We knew that we could match them for work,rate and team ethic as these are our strengths.
“We just had three set pieces where we switched off and if we do that against a team of Arsenal’s quality then they are going to punish us.”
Ex-Sunderland striker Beth Mead stung Rachel Laws’ fingertips after seven minutes to give the visitors a taste of what was to come.
Arsenal ran the rest of the half, the highlight being captain Nobbs’s free kick bundled off the line by four Sunderland players on 37 minutes.
Arsenal started the second half as they ended the first, as Danielle Carter put Mead through, but she shot wide on 49 minutes.
The Black Cats briefly gained momentum, captain Staniforth shooting high a minute later, before Carter worked space only to curl wide of Sunderland’s goal on 54 minutes.
Arsenal broke through on 58 minutes as Quinn headed Nobbs’ free kick into the bottom-left corner.
The hosts had their second 10 minutes later, Miedema curling a lay-off from Danielle van de Donk into the top-right corner.
Sunderland conceded a free-kick on 76 minutes on the edge of the penalty box, a gift for Nobbs to curl into the bottom-left corner.
Nobbs almost had a second with a volley in the box five minutes from full time but drove it straight at Laws.
Sunderland sub Simona Koren had a clear run in stoppage-time but was denied by Anna Moorehouse, sealing a formidable performance and a clean sheet for their new Australian boss to build on.
* England face Bosnia & Herzegovina in a FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifier at Walsall on November 24, KO 7.05pm. Buy tickets (£10 Adult/£1 Under-18) at www.thefa.com/tickets