Sunderland fall to quick double

Lucy Staniforth
Lucy Staniforth
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Sunderland Ladies captain Lucy Staniforth bemoaned missed opportunities as her side suffered a 2-0 WSL1 defeat at Birmingham City.

The hosts won the game with two goals in the space of four first-half minutes from Ellen White and Rachel Williams.

Staniforth said: “I thought we did really well and everyone stood up to be counted.

“We had five or six chances that are decent goalscoring opportunities and we are just gutted that we’ve not managed to come away with anything.

“We knew what Birmingham would bring to the table and we knew that they had a good goalscorer in Ellen White but stupidly, we’ve let the first goal in.

“I think when you are on a bit of a run, like Birmingham are, things seem to fall your way and unfortunately we couldn’t get what we wanted from the game.”

Sunderland started the game brightly and Blues keeper Ann-Katrin Berger had to backpedal well to tip Staniforth’s 25-yard lob over the bar on seven minutes.

Staniforth then miscued a volley wide from Keira Ramshaw’s fine ball nine minutes later.

But the Blues led on 19 minutes as White latched on to a Williams pass, surged into the area from the right and rolled a cool left-footed finish across Sunderland keeper Rachael Laws.

The roles were reversed four minutes later as City made it 2-0, White teeing up Williams, whose 18-yard shot took a slight deflection off Sunderland defender Ellie Stewart to wrongfoot Laws.

Sunderland could have halved the deficit on 50 minutes as Berger’s weak punch from a Staniforth cross fell to Dominique Bruinenberg but she pulled her shot wide.

Blues went close to a third on 70 minutes as Paige Williams’ inswinging corner almost crept under the bar but keeper Laws managed to tip it onto the woodwork.

Sunderland nearly pulled one back six minutes from time as Mollie Lambert hit the post from Rachel Pitman’s through ball but the Blues held out for a fourth win – and fourth clean sheet – on the spin.

Sunderland’s next game is a testing trip to title-chasers Manchester City on Wednesday, April 18.

Staniforth said: “Obviously, it’s always going to be difficult going away to Manchester City but I think they are suffering quite a lot from the fixture pile-up and we are going to try to take advantage of that.

“We want to gather as much distance from the bottom of the table as possible and have a really strong finish.”

Birmingham City: Berger, Carter, Westwood (Harrop 86), Mannion, Williams, Ladd, Ewers (Stringer 64), Wellings, Williams, Quinn (Follis 71), White. Subs not used: Hampton, Mayling, Cusack, Ayisi

Sunderland: Laws, Pitman, Sharp, Stewart (Sjoman 69), Wyne, Lipka, Lambert, Ramshaw, Staniforth, Joice (Young 79), Bruinenberg (Griffiths 68). Subs not used: Preuss, Gibson, Koren.

Attendance: 540