Bridget Galloway’s first senior goal steered Sunderland Ladies to a 1-0 victory over Liverpool tonight to progress to the FA Women’s Super League Continental Tyres Cup quarter-finals as group winners.
Both sides were previously unbeaten, and guaranteed places in the last eight, but the Wearsiders claimed a morale-boosting victory at Mariners Park to snatch top spot in Group One North from the Reds.
Liverpool started brightly, with midfielder Laura Coombs spurning two early chances as she blazed a close-range effort over the bar moments before the former Chelsea player saw an effort deflect narrowly wide.
And the Reds were made to rue those missed chances when Sunderland took the lead, with Galloway meeting Lucy Staniforth’s centre with a powerful header which left Siobhan Chamberlain with no chance.
Galloway could have doubled her tally after she sprung the offside trap and bore down on goal, but Chamberlain did well to tip her effort around the post.
Sunderland keeper Rachael Laws was then called into action to deny both Ashley Hodson and Bethany England as Liverpool ended the first half strongly.
The visitors introduced Natasha Harding to try to change the game and she was straight into the action, forcing Laws to parry her half-volley after the Lady Black Cats failed to clear their lines.
Liverpool continued to press forward, with Caroline Weir’s shot on the turn and Harding’s curler both being well-saved by Laws.
But Sunderland held out to claim three points which saw them leapfrog Liverpool to top the section.
Sunderland defender Victoria Williams said: “When we played Liverpool in the league (a 4-1 loss in October), we were disappointed with the scoreline and, for us, tonight was a chance to put those wrongs right.
“We put in a much more disciplined defensive performance, which set us on our way.
“Since Bridget has come in, she’s been brilliant. She’s hungry for goals and it’s great to see someone come through the youth ranks at Sunderland and make her senior debut.
“That’s what we want to do at Sunderland – we want to develop our own players and put them on the top stage.
“Topping the group puts us in a good position and hopefully, now we get a good draw in the quarter-finals.”
Sunderland Ladies (5-4-1): Laws; Pitman (Sjoman 56), Stewart, Williams, Sharp, Wyne; Staniforth, Bruinenberg, Lambert (Ramshaw 73), Lipka; Galloway (Koren 82) Sub not used: Storehouse, Joice, Brown
Liverpool (4-4-2): Chamberlain; Fletcher, Bonner, Stoney, Greenwood; Hodson (Pike 76), Ingle, Coombs, Clarke; Weir, England (Harding 61). Subs not used: Flaherty, Harris, Longhurst, Rodgers
Referee: Matthew Dicicco
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