Goals at the start of the first and second half from Beth Mead and Keira Ramshaw were enough to seal a 2-0 victory over Durham in the third North East derby of the season.
Mead scored a powerful volley that Danielle Hill could do nothing about it almost five minutes into the first half before Ramshaw doubled their advantage when a left-footed strike that fizzed into the top corner.
Durham started brightly and in the first minute it was Zoe Ness who drove forward into the Sunderland box only to be stopped by Sunderland when she looked to break clean through on goal.
Sunderland took the lead through Beth Mead just moments later when her volley on the edge of the crashed into the back of the net in only the fourth minute of the game.
The free kick that led to Mead’s goal had seen Vic Linsley cleanly win the ball but despite their protests, Sunderland had won themselves a free kick in a dangerous position and used it to their advantage.
Despite the setback Durham did not let going behind phase them with Emily Scott trying to open up Sunderland’s defence to play in Jordan Atkinson. Plenty of times throughout the first half, Durham were keeping possession of the ball to restrict Sunderland’s time on the ball.
Rebekah Bass came the closest to doubling their lead but her shot was straight into the side netting.
Strong defending from Vic Linsley and Sarah Wilson saw them alert to Beth Mead’s pace, working well together to shepherd the ball away from the prolific striker and the Wildcats were not afraid to put in a tackle when needed.
As the game settled down, it was Durham who had plenty of possession and their best effort came on the half hour mark. Beth Hepple’s free kick found it’s way to Ness who flicked it goal wards but Rachel Laws dealt with it comfortably.
From there it was all Durham and Jemma Purfield went close next after she cut inside with an effort that looked like it was going to loop over Laws only to be cut by the Sunderland goalkeeper.
The final minutes of the first half saw both Beth Jennings who unleashed a volley from around the 30-yard mark that went just over the bar and Ness got her head to Wilson’s free kick to give the side of Durham another opportunity to equalise.
Half-time and it was 1-0 to Sunderland.
The wind was knocked out of Durham’s sails immediately after the restart when Keira Ramshaw thumped the ball into the back of the net to give Sunderland a 2-0 lead.
Hepple found space outside the area to have another go on goal but her effort was always rising over the crossbar. There had clearly been an improvement from the last time the two sides had met
Sunderland’s began to search for another goal late in the second half and it was Rachel Furness who struck a volley that fizzed just wide of the post.
Durham continued to look for a way to break through on goal, getting the ball out quickly to try and find Hepple who met Jess Round’s cross but it was straight into Law’s hands.
The Wildcats should have had the ball in the back of the net when Hepple’s cut back ensured a goalmouth scramble with the away side having three chances before Ness blasted the ball over in front of an open goal.
That was to be the last action of the game and despite Durham creating a number of chances they fell 2-0 to the league leaders.