Disciplined Sunderland hold Arsenal to goalless draw
Second consecutive 0-0 for the Black Cats while Gunners start their Spring Series with a draw
FA WSL 1 match
14:00, Sunday 30 April 2017
Arsenal began their FA WSL Spring Series campaign with a compelling goalless draw against Sunderland at the Hetton Centre.
Lucy Staniforth was a rock in the Sunderland midfield and Anke Preuss unbeatable between the sticks as the hosts produced an incredibly disciplined display.
It was a second consecutive 0-0 to begin the Spring Series for the Black Cats but it could have been even better if not for Sari Van Veenendaal twice repelling home midfielder Dominique Bruinenberg.
The Gunners started the game strongly but could only force a couple of regulation saves from Preuss and the hosts had the first real chance on 23 minutes.
The impressive Bruinenberg forced Van Veenendaal to spectacularly tip her powerful header over the bar and then flashed narrowly wide form the resulting corner.
Arsenal’s England midfielder Jordan Nobbs flashed a dangerous shot across the face of goal just after the break and Heather O’Reilly fired the follow-up effort narrowly wide.
Shortly afterwards Van Veenendaal pushed another Bruinenberg effort over the bar – this one a looped strike from 20 yards – while Nobbs forced a sprawling save from Preuss as her volley with ten minutes remaining was destined for the bottom corner.
Preuss then also needed to be alert to repel late efforts from Danielle van de Donk and Chloe Kelly but the Black Cats held on for a well-deserved point.
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Sunderland’s Steph Bannon said:
“They are obviously a very good side and we knew that going into the game. They were going to be tough and hard-working with some world-class players in their squad.
“We knew we needed to be very well organised defensively and hard-working and hard to beat and I think we did that.
“Mel (new head coach Melanie Reay) has done really well since she has come in and instructed us to break the game down into 45-minute games to make sure we can compete in the 90 minutes.
“We had our backs against the wall for the first ten minutes of the second half but we defended really well from back to front, including everyone who came on. It was a massive squad effort and we will need that for the rest of the Spring Series.
“The core of the team is very strong. The team morale is fantastic at this moment in time. We’re not rolling over for anybody and we’re certainly not here to make up the numbers.”
Arsenal’s Fara Williams said:
“As a squad we came here wanting to get the three points. The structure they had was very good, they came here to defend and they did that with concentration for 90 minutes and they made it hard for us and frustrated us.
“We could have created more clear chances. The result is a fair result but it is gutting for us that we didn’t come here and perform the way we know we can.
“We were frustrated in ourselves. Credit to Sunderland, they came out and defended well and if you ask any of their players, they are dead on their feet.
“We’re a team that wants to play the Arsenal way. We have a style of play that is enjoyable and people want to watch. That isn’t going to change because of the way teams set up against us.”
Sunderland (3-5-2):Anke Preuss; Steph Bannon, Hayley Sharp, Victoria Williams; Stephanie Roche, Lucy Staniforth, Madelaine Hill, Dominique Bruinenberg, Abby Holmes; Beverly Leon, Abbey Joice
Substitutes: Keira Ramshaw for Leon 65; Mollie Lambert for Roche 71;
Substitutes not used: Olivia Watt, Sophie Stonehouse
Bookings: Holmes 31
Arsenal (4-3-3):Sari Van Veenendaal; Alex Scott, Dominique Jansson, Lotte Wubben-Moy, Anne Patton; Fara Williams, Jordan Nobbs, Danielle van de Donk; Heather O’Reilly, Danielle Carter, Jodie Taylor
Substitutes: Katie McCabe for Taylor 60; Chloe Kelly for Scott 60; Louise Quinn for van de Donk 83;
Substitutes not used: Anna Moorhouse, Carla Humphrey, Beth Mead
Red Cards: None
Referee: Rebecca Welch