A late goal secured victory for Stoke in a gritty second half after a first half full of action featuring four goals.

A dream start for the visitors saw Stoke take the lead in the first minute when forward Amy Hughes slots in from close range after the Sunderland goalkeeper fails to hang onto Stokes first shot on target.

Sunderland were quick to respond when striker Bridget Galloway punches home the rebound following a strike from fellow teammate Jordan Atkinson.

Stoke regained the lead just minutes after the Sunderland equalizer courtesy of striker Ashleigh Hayes who found space behind the Sunderland defence before slotting it in the bottom corner.

Despite Stoke very nearly making it three after a deflected shot from the edge of the box hits the bar it was Sunderland who was quick to break after Anna Young capitalised on a through ball over the top taking it around the Stoke goalkeeper and nestling it in the back of the net.

It was Sunderland who had the closest chance after tying up the game when midfielder Kiera Ramshaw dribbles inside the box before beating the Stoke defender to the ball which then hits the post resulting in a goal kick.

In a gritty second half with the only real chance for Sunderland coming on a counter-attack stemming from Sunderland midfielder Kiera Ramshaw who carries the ball up the pitch before playing in Katie Barker who had her shot tipped round the post from the goalkeeper.

A controversial injury-time corner for Stoke secured the winner as defender Emily Owen fires it in from close range.

An important away win for Stoke but a disappointing home defeat from Sunderland who failed to move up to second place and close the gap on the top of division undefeated Blackburn Rovers.