Sunderland AFC Ladies manager Melanie Reay.

Sunderland Ladies claimed a point in a hard-fought goalless draw against Arsenal Ladies on Sunday afternoon.

Despite Arsenal starting five players in Mark Sampson’s England squad for the European Championships in the summer, Sunderland restricted the Gunners to little and were good value for their second point of the season.

Arsenal’s side included household names such as Fara Williams, Alex Scott, Jordan Nobbs, Jodie Taylor and Danielle Carter all starting. Former Sunderland star Beth Mead was named as a substitute.

And the Gunners started well with Nobbs and Heather O’Reilly both going close.

Sunderland were holding Arsenal without creating an awful lot themselves but Dominique Bruinenberg almost fired gave the Lady Black Cats the lead in the 24th minute. Hayley Sharp’s cross found Bruinenberg and her powerful header forced a fine save from Sari van Veenendaal.

Beverly Leon then went close for the hosts but van Veenendaal prevented the former Valpolicella forward with a save in the bottom left corner.

O’Reilly fired wide for Arsenal early in the second half before Bruinenberg went close again with a 20-yard effort but another fine save from the Arsenal stopper prevented her. Maddie Hill’s effort was saved as the second half wore on.

Arsenal seemed to be lacking a cutting edge in what was their first league game and didn’t seem to be sharp enough to open up the Sunderland defence.

Lucy Staniforth fired a free-kick over as Sunderland looked to register their first goal of the league campaign, while Williams couldn’t keep her effort down at the other end.

Katie McCabe forced a save from Anke Preuss and the Sunderland keeper was forced into another stop to prevent Nobbs a couple of minutes later.

Sunderland looked to hit Arsenal on the break in the closing stages and Abbey Joice found herself in a good position but decided to pull the ball back when a shot was probably the better option.

Arsenal kept searching for a winner but it wasn’t to come and the Black Cats claimed their second point of the season.

 

Full-time: Sunderland Ladies 0-0 Arsenal Ladies

Sunderland Ladies: Preuss, Bannon (c), Sharp, Williams, Roche (Lambert, 72′), Staniforth, Hill, Bruinenberg, Holmes, Leon (Ramshaw, 66′), Joice

Unused subs: Watt, Stonehouse

Arsenal Ladies: van Veenendaal, Scott (c) (Kelly, 61′), Jansson, Wubben-Moy, Patton, Williams, Nobbs, van de Donk (Quinn, 84′), O’Reilly, Carter, Taylor (McCabe, 60’)

Unused subs: Moorhouse, Humphrey, Mead