Sunderland Women beaten by London City Lionesses despite Liz Ejupi goal
Despite a positive start from the Black Cats, goals from Sarah Ewans, Atlanta Primus and Lily Agg in a five-minute blitz gave the hosts a commanding half-time lead.
Liz Ejupi’s smart finish offered hope in an improved second period, but with too much to do in the final 20 minutes, they returned home from the capital empty handed.
There were changes to the squad which lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup with Neve Herron joining the injury list which includes Keira Ramshaw, Louise Griffiths, Abby Towers, Emily Hutchinson and Faye Mullen.
But, on the positive side, new-signings Megan Borthwick and Brenna McPartlan joined several U23 call ups which gave head coach Mel Reay plenty of choice from the group which travelled south.
They certainly started on the front foot and created the better chances early on – Lionesses’ goalkeeper Shae Yanez saving well from Emily Scarr and Jessica Brown before Danielle Brown fired over from distance.
As the half wore on, London City dug in began to build up a head of steam as Hayley Nolan curled wide and Ewans missed the target with a close range header.
Sunderland’s failure to deal with the increasing pressure was punished in the 27 th minute when Ewans met a cross from the left on the volley which crashed in off the bar.
Like London buses, seconds later it was two – Primus collected the ball on the edge of the box and found the bottom corner with a low drive. And then it was three, as the shell-shocked visitors were helpless to stop Agg pouncing on a loose ball in the box and blasting past Claudia Moan.
After the break the table toppers continued their dominance with Yanez rarely called into action. She was picking the ball out of her net with 20 minutes to go as Ejupi calmly controlled Abbey Joice’s lofted pass and fired home to raise hopes of a comeback.
It wasn’t to be, even with Reay making a triple substitution which saw former Manchester City academy captain McPartlan come off the bench for her debut.
With six of their next eight league games on home soil – starting on Sunday against Southampton – Sunderland will be hoping to put the weekend’s setback behind them and launch their way up the table with a top six finish still within reach.
Sunderland: Moan; Beer, McCatty, Westrup, Holmes Morgan 72’); Kelly (c), Danielle Brown, Jessica Brown (Watson 72’), Joice (McPartlan 72’), Scarr; Ejupi.
Subs: Cowling, Ede, McInnes, Dodds, Borthwick, Watson, Thompson.