Sunderland Women beaten 3-2 by Charlton Athletic in a controversial and fiery match

Sunderland Women narrowly lost 3-2 to Charlton Athletic in a controversial and fiery match at Eppleton CW in the Women’s Championship.

Emily Scarr’s cool finish gave the Black Cats a deserved lead in the first half in which they were rarely troubled, but on the hour, Ella Rutherford equalised with a powerful far post header from a corner which shouldn’t have really been given.

Captain Emma Kelly restored the hosts’ lead before everything that could go wrong for Mel Reay’s side did in a manic final 10 minutes.

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Keira Skeels’ drew Charlton level again almost immediately with deflected strike, Abbey Holmes was shown a red card for a robust challenge and then Elish N’Dow won the game in added time.

Sunderland Women narrowly lost 3-2 to Charlton Athletic in a controversial and fiery match at Eppleton CW in the Women’s Championship. Chris Fryatt picture.

It all started so well for Sunderland who were looking to put their 4-0 Stadium of Light defeat to Birmingham City behind them and get their stuttering season up and running as they kept their opponents pinned in their own half for much of the first period.

Brianna Westrup registered their first chance, rising highest to meet Tyler Dodds’ corner but her header was kept on the goal line. From there, they laid siege to the Charlton penalty area as Scarr, Dodds and Abbey Joice took turns to fire at goal but couldn’t find a way through.

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Neve Herron was next to try her luck, but her free kick was straight at Sian Rogers with Kelly again having an effort blocked before striking inches wide from a tight angle.

Charlton were struggling to withstand the pressure and after 30 minutes the deadlock was broken. Joice ran through on goal, skipped past the onrushing Rogers and calmly picked out Scarr on the edge of the box who side footed into the bottom corner.

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Sunderland comfortably saw the game out to the interval and looked to have doubled their lead early in the second half when Scarr’s fierce 20-yard drive crashed off the bar.

Moments later came the game’s main talking point as the referee signalled for a corner despite the ball seemingly not crossing the line. The Black Cats, losing their concentration as they argued the decision, failed to pick up Rutherford at the far post who found the net from Beth Roe’s delivery.

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Reay side are nothing but resilient and regained their composure and their advantage just after the hour when Kelly pounced on a loose ball in the area, smartly turning and guiding her shot past Rogers.

But then came a 10-minutes to forget.

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Charlton, who were starting to dominate before falling behind, won the ball deep in their opponent’s half within seconds of the restart and Skeels’ tame effort was cruelly deflected past the helpless Moan by Grace McCatty.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, they did.

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First Holmes, who was booked in the first half was given her marching orders for a robust challenge near the touchline, then N’Dow nodded a cross unchallenged into the top corner to claim the points and condemn Sunderland to another disappointing afternoon on Wearside.

Sunderland: Moan; Holmes, Westrup, McCatty, Griffiths; Kelly (c), Danielle Brown, Herron (Gears 80’), Joice (Manders 86’), Dodds (Jessica Brown 80’); Scarr (Watson 86’).

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Subs: Cowling, Mullen, Ramshaw, McInnes, Beer.