Former Sunderland Ladies striker Beth Mead came back to haunt the Black Cats as Arsenal Ladies claimed a 2-0 Women’s Super League 1 win at Mariners Park last night.
It left Lady Black Cats captain Lucy Staniforth to admit: “I thought we were rubbish.”
The visitors handed Mel Copeland’s side a sixth successive defeat to put the pressure on Manchester City in the race for second place, moving a point behind with a game to go.
There were solid starts from both sides, but Arsenal proved the more incisive going forward and took the lead in the 10th minute through Scotland international KIm Little.
The Londoners’ skipper gathered a cut-back from the left side of the box before lashing an effort into the net via a wicked deflection.
Arsenal were dominant in possession and went close courtesy of slick attacking play which saw Jordan Nobbs feed Mead on the right side of the area. She laid it off for Katie Evans, who found Danielle Carter with a cross. However, the striker’s header went inches past the post.
Mead’s strike just before the half-hour effectively wrapped up the points for Arsenal as she capitalised on direct play down the left wing to convert a low cross at the back post.
After going 2-0 up, Arsenal could have added more goals, with the forward having one shot cleared off the line by Victoria Williams.
Arsenal continued to press in the second half, as Carter forced a smart save from Rachael Laws just before the hour-mark prior to Danielle Van de Donk’s low strike being smothered by the Sunderland stopper moments later.
Sunderland skipper Staniforth said: “I thought we were rubbish. Everything that we had done so well against Chelsea (in their 2-1 defeat last week) just went out of the window.
“We need to have a long hard look at ourselves. If you want to compete at this level, you need to be consistent.
“The bare minimum is hard work, to do your job and graft. You need to put your body on the line. In the first half, we just didn’t fancy it and we weren’t at the races.
“A team with the quality they have, they’re going to punish you and we suffered because of that.
“Arsenal flew out of the traps and they knew if they started the game fast then we would be on the back foot and we would struggle to come back from that.”
Arsenal goal-scorer Kim Little said: “We got two goals in the first half and controlled the game completely.
“Scoring in the first half is so important, especially in these away games. We controlled the game and limited them to not many chances.”
Second-bottom Sunderland finish their season at home to bottom side Yeovil on Sunday.
Sunderland Ladies (4-5-1): Rachael Laws; Rachel Pitman, Victoria Williams (Ellie Stewart 73), Hayley Sharp, Kylla Sjoman; Dominique Bruinenberg, Zaneta Wyne; Lucy Staniforth, Mollie Lambert (Katie Barker 80), Abbey Joice (Bridget Galloway 56); Keira Ramshaw. Subs not used: Anke Preuss, Simona Koren, Faye Mullen, Anna Young. Booking: Wyne 40
Arsenal Ladies (4-3-3): Anna Moorhouse; Lisa Evans (Emma Mitchell 71), Louise Quinn (Heather O’Reilly 66), Leah Williamson, Katie McCabe; Jordan Nobbs, Dominique Janssen, Kim Little; Beth Mead (Shannon Cooke 87),
Danielle Carter, Danielle Van de Donk. Subs not used: Emma Gibson, Jessica Ngunga.
Att: 321. Referee: John Matthews
* To buy tickets to an FA Women’s Super League match, visit www.fawsl.com/tickets