Sunderland keeper Rachael Laws saved three penalties in the shoot out. Picture credit: Susan Gutteridge

Sunderland Ladies became the first-ever side to claim a bonus point in the FA WSL Continental Cup courtesy of a penalty shootout victory over Durham Women.

In the newly-revamped competition, games in the group stage that end in a draw will see a penalty shootout with the winners awarded an extra point.

And the Black Cats became the first side to benefit as they triumphed at New Ferens Park after the North East rivals played out an entertaining goalless draw.

In front of a packed out crowd, the early stages saw plenty of midfield action and it took until 26 minutes for the real chance – Durham’s Emily Roberts getting through on goal before being thwarted by the impressive Rachael Laws.

Sunderland’s Keira Ramshaw then saw an effort cleared off the line by Sarah Wilson as the Black Cats ended the first half strongly.

The visitors continued to push forward after the break, with both Lucy Staniforth and Dominique Bruinenberg taking range from distance but failing to trouble Helen Alderson.

Simona Koren then sprung the offside trap only to fire into the side while Durham substitute Abi Cottam poked narrowly wide after intercepting a weak defensive pass.

As the game reached its dying stages, Ramshaw was denied by the post after a scramble at the back stick before Cottam had a golden opportunity to seal victory – racing through on goal only for some more brilliance from Laws saw her make the save.

With the game goalless at the end of 90 minutes, both teams pocketed a point in Group 1 – but penalties were taken to give a bonus point to the winners.

And it was Sunderland who claimed that extra point thanks to Laws, who denied Zoe Ness, Cottam and Lauren Briggs from the spot as the Black Cats triumphed 3-2.