The Build Up
Yesterday saw Sunderland Ladies take on local rivals Middlesbrough in a Wear-Tees derby at the Stadium of Light, with both sides after their first win of the season.
Before the game the Black Cats were sat second from bottom of the WNL Northern Premier Division, but they were on the prowl for their first win of the season. A winless run for the side was something Mel Reay was conscious about in her pre-match comments, and also acknowledged just how solid an opponent ‘Boro would be:
We have to remain positive despite results that have been disappointing. We are in the process of rebuilding the team again and of course, it isn’t going to happen over night. We have seen lots of encouraging signs in the first two games and I’m confident the results we are looking for will follow.
Middlesbrough will be tough opponents. They too have had a mixed start to the season so we are certainly expecting a competitive game.
The visitors were sat only a point above the Lasses thanks to their draw with Hull City in the opening game of the season, and ‘Boro player Jasmine McQuade discussed the side’s recent form before the game;
Although we’ve conceded goals in the last two games, the frustration has been we haven’t taken our chances in front of goal. The positive is we have been creating them though. Hopefully we start putting those chances away in the next few weeks.
The scene was set then for a fantastic evening of football under the floodlights, and there was a sense of excitement building all week amongst the Lasses’ faithful supporters, it was just a shame that nobody outside of the two clubs would be able to watch the action unfold.
As Reay said in her pre-match comments, the Lasses are in the process of rebuilding the side. So unsurprisingly there were a couple of changes to the side that started at Hull on Sunday.
. Faye Mullen didn’t feature in the side due to injury, with Holly Manders coming in as her replacement. Additionally, Erika Warren, and Abbey Joice were brought into the starting line-up last night. Overall a strong and attacking side put out, with plenty of options to go forward and press ‘Boro throughout the game. Keira Ramshaw played her first ever game at the Stadium of Light, after missing out against Newcastle last year
Middlesbrough made one change to their side after their 3-0 defeat to Fylde at the weekend, with defender Katie Wilson coming into the squad.
As has been the case over the last couple of weeks, no spectators were allowed inside the stadium and there was no live stream. However, both clubs’ twitter account’s sprang into action once again to give the audience following online regular updates as the action unfolded.
It was clearly an even affair in the opening parts of the game, with both Sunderland and Middlesbrough looking to score an early goal and chances coming at both ends of the pitch. ‘Boro spurned a couple of good chances at the start of the game, with a save from Claudia Moan denying Tyler Dodds’ effort and Elysia Boddy having a crack on goal, but her shot ventured wide.
However, it was Sunderland who drew first blood thanks to a screamer from Neve Herron, who is no stranger to scoring at the SoL. The midfielder’s strike blasted into the top corner of goal, putting the Lasses 1-0 up in the fifteenth minute.
The kids scoring worldies at the SOL every year is something I’m absolutely here for. https://t.co/YJmpxqaH1e— Katie (@Katiemurillo) October 1, 2020
Sunderland were starting to see more of the ball, but it wasn’t quite enough as Middlesbrough found the equaliser fifteen minutes later with a goal from Jasmine McQuade stemming from a brilliant Tyler Dodds move. The rest of the first half proved to be a close affair, with chances from both sides but it remained 1-1 at half-time.
The Lasses started the second half strongly, with chances from Kiera Ramshaw and Maria Farrugia stopped thanks to some good saves from Rosie Todd.
Substitutions at the beginning of the second half saw Boro bring on Rebecca Olley for Katie Wilson to try and crank up the pressure on the hosts. Sunderland also made changes with Eve Blakely coming on for Erika Warren.
The Lasses went ahead again in the 67th minute from a Farrugia rocket into the top corner of goal, assisted by some slick build up play from Abbey Joice.
Spurred on with hunger and determination to win, Sunderland were on the hunt for another, with some good chances from Eve Blakey. However, Boro weren’t prepared to roll over and had opportunities for a second equaliser, particularly from McQuade, who hit the bar as the Teesiders looked to get back into the game.
After impressing throughout the game it was captain Ramshaw who found the killer goal for her side. After another spell of good play from Abbey Joice, the inspirational Sunderland skipper provided a calm finish in the bottom corner and it was 3-1 to Sunderland.
The visitors did pull another goal back right at the end of the game, with Dan Brown netting one in the closing stages, but it wasn’t enough on a night that belonged to Wearside. It was by all accounts a solid performance from the Lasses saw the game finish 3-2 and get that vital first win of the season under their belts.
A full match report can be found on the Sunderland AFC website.
Sunderland players were understandably delighted with the result, with Grace McCatty taking to twitter to state how crucial this result was to the season:
Massively important win for us tonight to get our first three points on the board Not the prettiest of performance at times and work still to be done but buzzing to finally get off the mark. Time to keep building Sunday.
As yet, there has been little reaction from the opposition reaction on their official social media or website. Sunderland fans, however, took to social media to celebrate an important first victory in the team’s promotion challenge.
Woohoo well done ladies normal service resumed x— Carolyn lyta Wood (@WoodLyta) October 1, 2020
Here at Roker Report, our Lasses-supporting contributors were similarly delighted with the result and the performances of key players. Graeme Field said:
Fantastic to see the team get three points, against a good Middlesbrough side. The win will give the team a lot of confidence going into their game at Huddersfield on Sunday. Lovely for Keira Ramshaw get a goal at the Stadium of Light, after so long at the club. The goals are going to need to be spread throughout the team this season, and that was certainly the case tonight. Really happy for the team, coaching staff and supporters after what has been a difficult few months for the club.
Ant Waterson was glowing in his praise, but again pressed the case for the club, who have enhanced the online viewing experience for the mens team, to at least provide a form of live streaming of Lasses matches:
Great result and absolutely thrilled that Sunderland are off and running. I’ve said for a while Neve Herron will go a long way in the game and she scored a lovely goal tonight. Really think the club however have missed a trick in not live streaming as it sounded like an absolute belting game. Well done lasses.
Well done ladies— Mackem Cards (@CardsMackem) October 1, 2020
And on the final whistle, possibly due to the nervous finish to the match, Rich Speight channelled his inner Norwegian on hearing that Sunderland AFC Ladies secured the victory they so badly needed:
Bob Mortimer... Steph McGuvern... Chris Rea... Ridley Scott... Roy Chubby Brown...
Your girls took a hell of a beating!!!
The result moves Sunderland above ‘Boro in the early NPD league table, and next up for Mel, Keira and the girls is Huddersfield away on Sunday.
The hosts have confirmed to Roker Report that the game will be played behind closed doors due to local lockdown restrictions in in West Yorkshire town, so there will be no repeat of last week’s road trip for fans.