Sunderland Ladies skipper Lucy Staniforth hailed her side’s all-round performance in securing an excellent 2-1 WSL1 victory at Bristol City Ladies on Saturday night.
Goals from Bridget Galloway and Rachel Pitman, either side of Lauren Hemp’s header, earned the Wearsiders their first away win since October.
Staniforth said: “I thought we were tremendous from start to finish – we had a game plan, we knew what we needed to do and we executed it.
“It’s a shame we conceded the goal to make the game a bit tighter than it needed to be, but we knew we had enough to win and I’m glad we did.
“I’m always happy to contribute and I’m delighted for Rachel, because she had a long time out injured and has worked hard to get back, so she deserves it.”
Sunderland were the first to threaten when Staniforth’s angled drive was well held by keeper Sophie Baggaley.
But the visitors went ahead in the 11th minute when Dominique Bruinberg’s cross from the left was met by Galloway, who promptly turned it into the bottom corner from eight yards.
The Vixens needed only four minutes to get back on level terms, though, as Frankie Brown’s cross from the right flank saw Hemp rising to flash a powerful header past Rachael Laws in the Sunderland goal.
Sunderland enjoyed the better of the chances over the rest of the opening period, with Baggaley diving to her left to deny Bruinenberg before pulling off a miraculous stop to somehow keep out Victoria Williams’ point-blank header from a Staniforth corner.
Bristol went close after the break when Danique Kerkdijk nodded a Jana Daniels corner across the face of goal, but Sunderland regained the lead in the 58th minute.
The Vixens failed to clear Staniforth’s free-kick and Pitman turned the loose ball home.
Staniforth added: “We are on a bit of a roll at the moment and feel confident. We have Aston Villa in the Women’s FA Cup next weekend.
“I feel we have hit a bit of form in recent weeks and will go there with confidence.”
Bristol City boss Willie Kirk said: “It was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance.
“No disrespect to Sunderland, but we feel we should be winning games like this and are better than we showed here.
“Although we were involved in the game for large spells, we lacked control of it – and we failed to control ourselves, our emotions and Sunderland’s attacks.”
Sunderland Ladies (4-5-1): Rachael Laws; Hayley Sharp, Ellie Stewart, Victoria Williams, Kylla Sjoman; Rachel Pitman, Zanetta Wynne (Abbey Joice 89), Dominique Bruinberg, Kasia Lipka, Lucy Staniforth; Bridget Galloway (Keira Ramshaw 84). Subs not used: Dominique Preuss, Mollie Lambert, Abbey Joice, Danielle Brown
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