The Lady Black Cats’ celebrate Bridget Galloway’s opener

Sunderland secured second place in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division with a comfortable win over Sheffield FC on the final day.

Bridget Galloway opened the scoring with a header nine minutes in before strikes from Niamh McLaughlin and Katie Barker, in the 25th and 37th minutes respectively gave the hosts a 3-0 first-half lead.

Maria Farrugia added a fourth in the 53rd minute, however, Sheffield would pull two back as Milly Wortley scored in the 60th minute and Emma Johnson scored in the 85th.

Sunderland would add another late on, Georgia Gibson finished off a fantastic move in the 88th minute.

The final day saw a three-way battle to take second, with Sunderland needing to match or better the results of Derby County and Huddersfield Town. The Black Cats were bolstered by a number of players returning after the Guiseley game, although would miss the experience of captain Keira Ramshaw and Grace McCatty.

Sunderland took the lead after nine minutes. Louise Griffiths pinpoint cross from deep on the right found the head of Galloway, who headed into the bottom corner for her 17th goal of the FAWNL season.

It would be two 25 minutes in. Barker worked hard to keep the ball in on the right before cutting it back to McLaughlin. The Irish midfield let the ball run across her body, turning her marker and fired into the top corner to double the lead.

Sheffield almost pulled one back four minutes later. Allison Cowling pulled off an excellent save to deny Lisa Giampalma, turning the striker’s volley from point-blank range onto the crossbar.

And in the 37th minute, Barker got Sunderland’s third of the afternoon. McLaughlin would turn architect with a clever reverse pass setting the winger away. She beat a couple of defenders before hitting a venomous shot, which moved in the air, beating Serena Clarke and nestling high in the net.

Farrugia got Sunderland off to a good start in the second half, firing in from just inside the box after Barker’s cut back eight minutes in.

Sheffield got themselves back into the game, however. Wortley was first to net at the hour mark, finishing the rebound after a good Cowling save from the edge of the area.

Johnson would add Sheffield’s second in similar circumstances. Cowling made a great reaction save once again, pushing the ball wide of goal but Johnson got to the rebound and slotted the ball home from a tight angle.

Sunderland would manage to halt Sheffield’s resurgence late in the game. Hitting the post in the 87th minute, Gibson finished off a great move of one-touch passing a minute later, with a calm side-foot effort, slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

SAFC: Cowling, Mullen, Beer, Griffiths, Kemp, Lambert ©, McLaughlin, Farrugia (Young 74’), Barker (Hutchinson 74’), Gibson, Galloway

Subs Not Used: Stewart, Warren, Skull

Sheffield: S. Clarke, Housley © (Butcher 71’), Giampalma, Wortley, M. Clarke, Heald (Harvard 46’), Conroy, Tinsley, Johnson, Lord-Mears, Clarkson (Hawcroft 77’)

Subs Not Used: N/A