Sunderland’s development side celebrate Louise Griffiths opening goal

Sunderland AFC Ladies Development 3 (Griffiths 18’, Galloway 31’, Gibson 74’)

Birmingham City Ladies Reserves 1 (Linden 34’)

Sunderland Ladies development side stretched their unbeaten start to the FA WSL Development League season to four games with a home win against Birmingham City.

Sunderland took a two goal lead in the first half an hour of the game. A great counter attack saw Louise Griffiths open the scoring before Bridget Galloway’s well hit effort doubled the home side’s advantage.

However, Birmingham pulled one back soon after Sunderland’s second, with Anna Linden’s deflected strike finding its way into the net. It wasn’t until the 74th minute that Sunderland sealed the victory, as skipper Georgia Gibson added a third.

First team players Danielle Brown and Tyler Dodds dropped into the development team as they searched for minutes and the pair were watched by first team manager Melanie Copeland.

The Young Lady Black Cats almost got off to a flyer, as Bridget Galloway won the ball straight from Birmingham’s kick off. However, her effort was saved by Fran Stenson, who dived low to her right to turn the ball behind for a corner.

Sunderland had another opportunity with seven minutes played. Danielle Brown cut the ball back to Gibson, however the skipper sliced her effort wide.

Birmingham had two opportunities to get their noses in front, however Sunderland ‘keeper Claudia Moan denied both efforts. First, she dived at the feet of Heidi Logan, stripping the ball from the Blues’ striker.

Moan’s second save was more comfortable, after Emily Joyce was given a clear shooting opportunity but hit her effort straight at the ‘keeper.

Claudia Moan dives at the feet of Birmingham’s Heidi Logan

After surviving two scares, Sunderland made their next chance count, although through an unlikely source. With 18 minutes played, centre back Griffiths started and finished a counter attack to open the scoring. After cutting out a Birmingham corner, Griffiths played through Katie Barker. Barker played the ball back to Griffiths in the Birmingham box before and centre back found the bottom corner.

Sunderland had an opportunity to double their advantage. Sunderland once again hit Birmingham on the break from a Blues’ corner. Barker beat four defenders on her way up the pitch before passing the ball to Gibson. Gibson in turn found Galloway, with the latter firing wide from a great position.

However, it only took Galloway a minute to make up for the miss. The Black Cats striker fired high into the net, doubling the home side’s advantage.

Bridget Galloway scores Sunderland’s second

Birmingham hit back quickly, with Anna Linden finding the net. Sunderland failed to clear a corner, with the ball landing for Linden whose deflected shot found the net

On the stroke of halftime, goalscorer Griffiths made a vital last ditch challenge sliding in and winning the ball well to deny Linden a second goal of the game and keeping Trevor Atkinson’s side 2-1 up at halftime.

The second half got off to a slow start, with Birmingham having the first chance 10 minutes in. Logan originally had a shot blocked by Olivia Watt, however, she regained possession from the rebound. The second opportunity was curled wide.

Gibson had Sunderland’s first shot two minutes later, turning onto her left foot before striking an effort wide to the ‘keeper’s left.

Approaching the 70 minute mark, Moan made another great save, turning Shania Hayles’ shot behind for a corner from point blank range.

Sunderland rebuilt their two goal advantage 74 minutes in. Captain Gibson got her goal, neatly finding the bottom corner to Stenson’s left after some great work down the left wing from Barker, with the forward finding her captain.

With 80 minutes played, Sunderland had an opportunity to put the game beyond doubt. Gibson won a penalty and Galloway stepped up to take it. However, the striker couldn’t get her second of the afternoon, as the penalty was well saved by Stenson.

With two minutes left, Moan denied Hayles, diving at the feet of the forward to push the poked effort behind for a corner. Moan cleared the corner with a punch and Sunderland saw out the remaining minutes.

Trevor Atkinson’s side now sit in second with this win their second of the season, while Birmingham are second bottom, winning one and losing three of their opening four games.

SAFC: Moan, Griffiths, Watt, Packham (Warren 74’), Brown, Dodds, Guy, Gibson ©, Young, Barker (Hutchinson 84’), Galloway

Subs Not Used: Stonehouse, Woolston, Reid

BCFC: Stenson, Nicholls, Cooke (Fallon 64’), McKenzie (Kenny 72’), Popple, Bruton, Joyce, Linden (Weaver 72’), Logan, Davies, Hayles

Subs Not Used: N/A