First-half strikes earn Arsenal away win at Sunderland
Goals from Kim Little and Beth Mead enough to see off Black Cats 2-0 and keep pressure on City
FA WSL 1 match
19:00, Wednesday 16 May 2018
Arsenal Goal Scorers: Little 11', Mead 18'
Arsenal scored twice before half-time to keep the pressure on Manchester City in the race for second in FA Women’s Super League 1 as they beat Sunderland 2-0.
Kim Little opened the scoring after ten minutes, with Beth Mead doubling the visitors’ advantage just before the half-hour. They then saw out the remainder of the game to sit one point behind City going into the final round of games on Sunday.
Sunderland (4-5-1): Rachel Laws; Rachel Pitman, Victoria Williams, Hayley Sharp, Kylla Sjoman; Dominique Bruinenberg, Zaneta Wyne; Lucy Staniforth, Mollie Lambert, Abbey Joice; Keira Ramshaw.
Substitutes: Bridget Galloway for Joice 56; Ellie Stewart for Williams 73; Katie Barker for Lambert 80.
Substitutes not used: Anke Preuss, Simona Koren, Faye Mullen, Anna Young.
Bookings: Wyne 40
Red Cards: None
Arsenal (4-3-3): Anna Moorhouse; Lisa Evans, Louise Quinn, Leah Williamson, Katie McCabe; Jordan Nobbs, Dominique Janssen, Kim Little; Beth Mead, Danielle Carter, Danielle Van de Donk.
Substitutes: Heather O’Reilly for Quinn 66; Emma Mitchell for Evans 71; Shannon Cooke for Mead 87.
Substitutes not used: Emma Gibson, Jessica Ngunga.
Red Cards: None
Referee: John Matthews
It was a solid start from both sides, but Arsenal were proving the more incisive going forward and took the lead in the tenth minute through Little.
The skipper gathered a cut-back from the left side of the box before lashing an effort into the net via a wicked deflection.
Arsenal were dominant in possession and went close courtesy of slick attacking play which saw Jordan Nobbs feed Mead on the right side of the area. She laid it off for Katie Evans, who found Danielle Carter with a cross. However, the striker’s header went inches past the post.
After Mead had extended the Arsenal advantage, they could have added more, with the forward having one shot cleared off the line by Victoria Williams.
Arsenal continued to press in the second half, as Carter forced a smart save from Rachel Laws just before the hour-mark prior to Danielle Van de Donk’s low strike being smothered by the Sunderland stopper moments later.
But Sunderland wouldn’t be denied a second five minutes later as Mead capitalised on direct left wing play to convert a low cross at the back post. She would then have one cleared off the line by Victoria Williams as the away side looked to put the game to bed before half-time.
Chasing the runner-up spot, Arsenal continued to press in the second half, as Carter forced a smart save from Rachel Laws just before the hour-mark prior to Danielle Van de Donk’s low strike being smothered by the Sunderland stopper moments later. Neither miss mattered too much as the visitors claimed a comfortable win.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Beth Mead’s strike just before the half-hour effectively wrapped up the points for Arsenal as she capitalised on direct play down the left wing to convert a low cross at the back post. From there, Arsenal were never really troubled on their way to victory.
WHAT THEY SAID
Sunderland midfield Lucy Staniforth said: “I thought we were rubbish. Everything that we had done so well against Chelsea just went out of the window.
“We need to have a long hard look at ourselves. If you want to compete at this level, you need to be consistent.
“The bare minimum is hard work, to do your job and graft. You need to put your body on the line. In the first half, we just didn’t fancy it and we weren’t at the races.
“A team with the quality they have, they’re going to punish you and we suffered because of that.
“Arsenal flew out of the traps and they knew if they started the game fast then we would be on the back foot and we would struggle to come back from that.”
Arsenal goal-scorer Kim Little said: “Our home form this season has been great but our away form has let us down.
“We have spoken about coming to away games which are a little bit messy, not as good pitches, and just being professional and getting the job done. I thought we did that.
“We got two goals in the first half and controlled the game completely. Scoring in the first half is so important, especially in these away games. Giving us that confidence at half-time, we controlled the game and limited them to not many chances at all. As a team, we just want the three points.”
Sunderland finish their season at home to bottom side Yeovil, while Arsenal travel to Bristol City.
The team from London need a win and for Manchester City to fail to pick up all three points when they host Everton, to sneak into second and Champions League football.
Staniforth added: “It is not a given. Yeovil have shown in the second half of the season that they are going to pick up points and they are willing to graft and they’re not an easy team who are going to roll over and be beaten so they are going to come here on Sunday and look to take what they can from the game.
“The things that are a bare minimum in football – hard work and graft – we need to turn up on Sunday and do that.
“The pressure is on us to do it. It’s in our hands. We’ve beaten them away and we have won along the way this season. We have put in some good performances. The team that has shown up today can’t show up on Sunday.”
Little added: “Second place is still there. We let it slip from our own hands with two disappointing away results against Yeovil and Birmingham and now it is not in our hands.
“We can just do all we can, get the last three points against Bristol on Sunday, hopefully, and then whatever the outcome, we’ll look to build on what has been a progressively better season for us as it has gone on.
“It’s another away game for us. We need to control the game and do what we do best, keep the ball and break teams down.
“Some of the passages of play here were great so we hope to do that on Sunday. It’s the last game of the season so I am sure it will be a competitive game. We look forward to going to Bristol; they’ve got a great pitch and facility.”
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