Sunderland boss happy with hard-fought win

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MANAGER Mick Mulhern is more than happy to sacrifice style for substance as Sunderland increased their lead at the top of FA Women’s Super League 2 with a hard-earned 2-0 victory against Oxford United.

Kelly McDougall’s first-half penalty and Hayley Sharp’s late header saw the Lady Black Cats move four points ahead of second-placed Doncaster Rovers Belles.

And while it wasn’t his side’s most comprehensive performance of the season, Mulhern admits any win will do.

“You have to win ugly sometimes. Good teams win ugly. You can’t be flamboyant and flash every week, and we’re grinding out results like last week,” said Mulhern.

“I was more pleased with the second half than the first. We weren’t very good in the second half. We had a chat at half time about one or two things because our decisions on the ball weren’t as good as what we normally are.

“We were much more positive in the second half. Emma Kelly came on as a substitute and had a big impact.”

Sunderland almost got off to the best possible start, but Keira Ramshaw could only prod the ball onto the bar from a dangerous Victoria Greenwell cross.

Soon after Abby Holmes was brought down in the box, which left McDougall to coolly slot home into the bottom right corner for the Lady Black Cats.

Rebekah Bass flashed a shot narrowly wide towards the end of the half, before Oxford’s Katie Stanley came closest for the U’s with a powerful drive.

The visitors started the second half brightly, and on 53 minutes, Lauren Allison very nearly turned in Helen King’s cross, before King herself nodded over from a corner.

But the home side doubled their lead in the 78th minute, as Sharp rose high to nod in from a corner and secure all three points.

Sophie Williams then rattled the crossbar at the death as Sunderland condemned the visitors to their fifth straight defeat in all competitions.

Oxford boss Les Taylor said: “We conceded a really poor penalty. But we recovered, caused them a few problems, and so first half we came out of it well and played some good stuff, but never really looked like scoring which has been our biggest problem this season.

“Then in the second half we slowly started to lose the ball in our own half and they ended up creating quite a few chances, and we conceded a sloppy one from a set play. We were the victims of our own downfall.”

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