Sunderland Ladies go top after impressive 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at the Stadium of Light
Sunderland Ladies moved to the top of the Women’s Championship with a dominant win over Blackburn Rovers at the Stadium of Light.
A stunning first half performance blew Rovers away as goals from Neve Herron and Emily Scarr gave the Black Cats a commanding lead heading into the break.
Although the visitors improved in the second period, they rarely troubled their opponents who have made a perfect start to life in the second tier.
Manager Mel Reay was forced to change the team which won at Coventry United on the opening day; Scarr coming in for captain Keira Ramshaw who missed out with a knee injury.
Blackburn posed a threat early on, Chelsey Jukes’ low cross was turned goalward by Saffron Jordan, but her shot didn’t trouble Claudia Moan who was then called on to punch a freekick clear from under the crossbar.
But from then on, it was all Sunderland, who took opened the scoring after 12 minutes. Jess Brown, whose pace and driving runs were causing problems down the right, was fouled and Charlotte Potts’ freekick was headed powerfully home by Neve Herron.
The Rovers defence struggled to cope with wave after wave of Sunderland attacks, Herron denied her second by a good save from Alexandra Brooks who then recovered brilliantly to save Maria Farrugia’s follow up from a tight angle.
Minutes later, it was two. A mistake in the Blackburn defence played Scarr through on goal and the forward calmly slid the ball under Brooks.
Time and time again Sunderland were getting in behind the Rovers back line, Farrugia’s effort from Louise Griffiths’ cross was well saved after the Malta international’s first effort was charged down, then Abbey Joice blazed a shot high and wide from inside the box.
On the stroke of half-time Griffiths found Farrugia on the edge of the box, but she was unable to add to the commanding lead.
As in the first 45, the first chance of the second half went to Blackburn as Moan got down brilliantly to tip Annabel Blanchard’s deflected shot round the post. At the other end, a well worked corner found Emma Kelly, who couldn’t keep her curled shot down.
The Sunderland back line were determined to keep a clean sheet as some last-ditch defending denied Blackburn with Herron in the thick of it, bravely throwing herself in front of Natasha Fenton’s point-blank effort.
As full-time approached neither side created further chances of note, the Black Cats keeping Blackburn at arm’s length to record their first home win of the season in front of 749 supporters at the Stadium of Light, who were cheering on their heroes on Wearside for the first time in two years.
A trip to South London and Crystal Palace is next up for Reay’s young side, who will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run and lead at the top of the table.
Sunderland: Moan; Beer, McCatty, Potts, Griffiths; Herron, Kelly ©, Brown; Farrugia, Joice, Scarr.
Subs: Cowling, Mullen, Blakey, Hutchinson, Manders.