Sunderland Women 2 Arsenal Ladies 1

Sunderland sent shockwaves through the world of women's football yesterday by inflicting only the second league defeat in over six years on mighty Arsenal Ladies.

The Gunners had beaten Sunderland 5-1 a week before to maintain their perfect start to the Premier League season, but the Wearsiders turned the tables at Eppleton CW.

It was a fully deserved victory against a star-studded Arsenal side, crammed full of internationals and containing three players awarded the MBE for service to women's game.

But the Gunners were humbled by Sunderland's determination, skill and growing confidence. The win also lifted Sunderland back to joint top in the Premier League after Chelsea – who visit the Hetton Centre next Sunday – lost at home to Doncaster Belles.

The early exchanges were even as Kelly McDougall set Demi Stokes away but her cross was beaten away.

At the other end, Katie Chapman set up Rachel Yankey, but the England veteran pulled her shot wide. A Jayne Ludlow effort then flew over the bar.

Good work from the busy Jordan Nobbs and Lucy Staniforth released right-back Abby Holmes on a powerful run but Chapman cleared the danger.

It was end to end as Yankey crossed for Julie Fleeting, but the Scotland captain headed weakly and keeper Rachael Laws collected comfortably.

Fleeting soon had a chance to make amends from close range but centre-half Gemma Wilson made a crucial interception.

Sunderland had chances too, with Nobbs breaking through to set up Natalie Gutteridge, but the striker's effort was hooked away by Yorston. Sarah Danby and Stokes both also had shots wide.

Arsenal came out strongly in the second half looking to assert their authority and forced two quick corners. From the second, Gilly Flaherty had a header well saved by Laws.

The pressure paid off ten minutes into the period though when Chapman's through ball was collected by Kim Little, who surged into the box and rounded keeper Laws before shooting into the empty net.

If Arsenal thought they had broken the Sunderland spirit, they were wrong. And the home side hit back with an equaliser just four minutes later.

Nicola Devine sent Sophie Williams – on for the injured Lucy Staniforth – away on the left. She hit a great ball behind the defence for Nobbs to run on to and beat the advancing Emma Byrne from just inside the box.

The crowd was raising the roof as Arsenal became frustrated and Sunderland grew in confidence.

A Williams effort was scrambled away with Byrne stranded before another great tackle from Wilson at the other end denied Yankey.

Wilson and skipper Steph Bannon were rock solid at the back, while in midfield the running of Nobbs and McDougall denied the visitors space.

Further efforts from Danby, Stokes and Gutteridge were beaten away before the home side struck the winner with just four minutes remaining.

Williams, Gutteridge and Nobbs combined to set up McDougall, who hooked a shot which cleared Byrne and dipped just under the bar to spark wild celebrations.

Sunderland: Laws, Holmes, Bannon, Wilson, Devine, Staniforth (Williams), Nobbs, McDougall, Danby, Gutteridge. Subs (not used): Salicki, Fletcher, Atkinson, Halliday.

Arsenal: Byrne, Yorston, Ludlow, Flaherty, Grant, Beattie, Davison, Chapman, Yankey, Little, Fleeting. Subs: Tracy, White, Fahey, Lander.