• Sunderland vs Ladies first team (5-2)
  • Sunderland vs Ladies first team (5-2)
  • Sunderland vs Ladies first team (5-2)
  • Sunderland vs Ladies first team (5-2)

Sunderland vs Ladies first team (5-2)


Sunday 05 May, 2019 - 14.00 FA WNL Northern Division

Second Half Fight Puts Gloss on Disappointing Closing-Day Display

Sheffield travelled to the north-east knowing that, but for a 26-goal swing, their place in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier division was secured for 2019/20.

Their opponents Sunderland, meanwhile, had their eyes firmly set on finishing a first season back at step three, as runners up. 

The hosts showed their intent from the start, and took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes.  Louise Griffiths beat a half-hearted challenge out wide before delivering a deep cross in the box where Bridget Galloway’s movement found the gap in the Sheffield back line and her header could not be kept out in spite of a strong hand low down by Serena Clarke.

Ten minutes later Sunderland doubled their lead. Another attack from the right wasn’t dealt with in the middle, the ball unable to be cut out by three, before Niamh McLaughlin finished well.

Sheffield looked for a way back in and created their best attack when Lisa Giampalma set Megan Tinsley on her way down the left and her excellent cross found the forward’s run inside the box, but her volley was exceptionally saved by Sunderland stopper Allison Cowling, acrobatically pushing the ball onto the crossbar before it was scrambled away.

A poor first half didn’t come to an end before another blow.  Good movement parted the Sheffield midfield and allowed Katie Barker to make an unchallenged run into shooting range, with her effort comfortably finding the back of the net. 

HT: 3-0

Sheffield came out stronger in the second half, a raised intensity by all, led by the introduction of Molly Havard into the forward line.

Yet in spite of the improved start, Sunderland struck again: a needless free-kick was given away out wide, and as everyone switched off, Maria Farrugia was given space to apply the finish.

Cowling, the reasonably untroubled Sunderland stopper up until that point, was forced into a far busier second half.  Rhema Lord-Mears and Millee Clarke, both having good efforts denied before Sheffield finally got a breakthrough.

Lord-Mears initial effort was well-saved, but the rebound fell to Milly Wortley who calmly slotted it back into the net from 12 yards. 

On the break, Lord-Mears was involved again when her through-ball found Havard whose cross just missed the incoming Clarke’s boots by millimetres.

It was then Emma Johnson’s chance to get involved.  Havard never gave up on a loose ball, her hooked cross played in Johnson who couldn’t quite keep the effort down.

Johnson did, however, get a chance again a few moments later.  Wortley’s shot was well parried again by Cowling, but Johnson was there to slot it home from a tight angle for 4-2 with five minutes to go. 

As the visitors pushed for another back, Sunderland broke and punished their adventure. A fifth was slotted home by Gibson as a quick break carved a tiring Sheffield FC open. 

FT: 5-2

After the game, Sheffield manager, Calum Oakenfold, gave his thoughts on a tough last day trip:

“It’s obviously not what we wanted from our last game today.  We didn’t make the right decisions, and a team like Sunderland will punish you on that.  We weren’t at the races in the first half, and had to change that going into the second half.”

“We made more of a game of it second half, scored a couple of goals and could’ve got a couple more.”

“Coming in when I did, with what we had left to play, we had the task of staying in this league – which we have done. Although this isn’t the ending we wanted, we’re still here and that is the main thing.”

“In the off season, we have the chance to rebuild, get refocused, and hopefully push for where we want to be next season, which is much higher up the league.”